Simply Be You…

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” ~ Fanny Brice … 

These words really depict the struggle and the effort required to go against being our true authentic selves, and rightfully so, for posing requires us to redirect tremendous amounts of time, effort, and other resources that could instead be used to develop a deeper sense of purpose, value, and meaning in our lives. In doing so, we must constantly be considering how we think we should act and how we think we must be in order to continue our pose, instead of just being ourselves. And even more importantly, if we are not working on being our authentic selves, then where exactly will we be once our temporary selves are gone?

It often takes a level of courage to be genuine with others in our lives. Many times we feel pressured to live up to their expectations, or we wish to avoid the potential confrontations and criticisms that may come about from us being authentic. Bet even though it may not always seem easy or ideal to be genuine with others, true authenticity is something that makes our lives much richer, much simpler, much more fulfilling, and much less prone to confer unpleasant surprises on us.

I am much less concerned that I will “forget the pose,” than I am about how others will feel or react if they were to discover that I am not necessarily the person that they believe me to be; which brings up the question, “Who am I trying to convince–others, myself, or both?”

Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Who am I?” And if the person gazing back at you is not the same person you genuinely feel within, then now is the time to remove that mask of inauthenticity and be honest with others and yourself.

Simply be you–in all that you say and do.

Questions to consider:

Do you let the world know you exactly as you are? What are you like?

Why do so many people feel that it is important to pose as someone they are not?

What are some of the traits of the completely authentic you? Do you let those traits shine through?

For further thought:

“It is finally when you let go of what people expect you to be and people’s perceptions of you that you’re able to be the version of yourself that you’re supposed to be–like in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re half crazy, or eccentric, or whatever it is–that you have to be true to who you were born to be.” ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

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Create A Strong Belief In Yourself

“You can change your beliefs so they empower your dreams and desires. Create a strong belief in yourself and what you want.” ~ Marcia Wieder … 

Gardens should be nourishing to the seeds that are planted within them; those seeds need lots of healthy nutrients, sunlight, and water to germinate, grow, and flower or produce a beneficial harvest. They also require tending to and care, such as fertilizers, pesticide, and continual weeding and trimming. Our dreams and desires are much like the season’s harvest of a garden–they are dependent upon how well we nourish and empower them with strong, healthy beliefs. And the beauty of this realization is that we can determine how successful we are at reaching our dreams and desires simply by believing in ourselves and embracing positive attitudes, and no one can take this away from us unless we allow them to do so.

And even if our attitudes are negative, or wishy-washy and on the fence, all it takes is a simple shift in perspectives to make a world of difference. Everything picks up when we begin to believe in our self: self-image and self-confidence, feelings of happiness and contentment, work performance and productivity, even relationships–for it is easier to be with someone who believes in himself or herself than it is to be with someone who does not.

Do your beliefs empower your dreams and desires? If the answer is “yes,” then you are on track to reaching them; but if it is “no,” then now is the time to start creating, developing, and building up healthy beliefs that align with those dreams and desires. There is an amazing world of limitless potential and countless untapped abilities that lie untapped within you. And just as we would not go outside wearing only shorts in the winter, or dressed in something we dislike or feel does not define us, we should not go through life allowing beliefs that do not nourish us or support us to define who we are.

Remove any beliefs you hold that do not support or align with your current dreams and desires.

Questions to consider:

Where do your beliefs come from? How did you get them?

How might you go about creating your own beliefs about your own life and the ways that you live it?

Why is it important to adopt and maintain beliefs that support your dreams and desires?

For further thought:

“Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs. Just as quickly as you can dehypnotize yourself from the ideas of “I can’t,” “I’m not worthy,” ” I don’t deserve it,” and other self-limiting ideas.” ~ Maxwell Maltz, PsychoCybernetics

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Beauty In Strong Character

“Beauty is a radiance that originates from within and comes from inner security and strong character.” ~ Jane Seymour, Open Hearts: If Your Heart Is Open, Love Will Always Find Its Way In … 

Here, we are reminded that the beauty we radiate to the world can best be witnessed in the understanding of what it means to be secure in ourselves–to sense and understand that our source of strength and security comes from within and is not a result of outside influences. This “inner security” is simply an awareness and acceptance of our true authenticity–of who we are at our deepest levels. And when we come to feel, to know, and to embody this real and substantial inner beauty we possess, we begin to radiate it to the world around us.

The important message here is that if we wish to become a beautiful person–not the skin deep type, but the beauty that comes from being a gentle, loving, kind, merciful, forgiving, compassionate, selfless, and strong person who is not misdirected or shipwrecked by the winds and rains of circumstance and happenstance–then we must develop the important elements of who we are such as our integrity and fortitude, and our inner security and faith. The reality is that true beauty in an individual has no tangible measure–it does not require wealth, power, or fame, nor does it involve make-up, expensive clothes, or any other form of vanity–it simply requires strong character. And once we have that, others will be able to look to us as a source of guidance, strength, and inspiration in their own lives.

We each have the potential to radiate beauty–it is simply a choice to be made, a lifestyle to embrace. That means accepting yourself exactly as you are, spending time learning about yourself in a deeper sense and coming to know and understand your heart, and then loving that person, faults and all–recognizing the fact that you are an amazing child of God, and that even though you may never be wealthy, famous, powerful, those things simply do not matter, for you are beautiful and wonderfully made.

Define an attribute of your character that radiates beauty.

Questions to consider:

Why do most people in our societies define beauty through visible criteria?

Why do most of us not see ourselves as beautiful?

Who are the most beautiful people you know? Is their beauty only physical, or is there more to them than the physical looks?

For further thought:

“If man or woman wishes to realize the full power of personal beauty, it must be by cherishing noble hopes and purposes; by having something to do and something to live for, which is worthy of humanity; and which, by expanding the capacities of the soul, gives expansion and symmetry to the body which contains it.” ~ Thomas C. Upham, Letters — Aesthetic, Social, and Moral

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Have Faith With Intellectual Magnificence

“Faith is an excitement and an enthusiasm, a state of intellectual magnificence which we must safeguard like a treasure, not squander on our way through life in the small coin of empty words and inexact, pedantic arguments.” ~ George Sand, Letter to Marie-Theodore Desplanches, May 25, 1866 … 

Throughout most of my youth, I held this idea that faith was some sort of mysterious element in my life, something that required an acceptance of many of the traditions and held beliefs of others, and depended on me trusting in an unknowable Creator in the same ways that others trusted in one. But faith is a personal matter–it is unique to each one of us–and it is up to us where we wish to place that faith, be it in God, in others, in science, in work, or even in things such as money. However, it is important to realize that some things in life that we have faith in will inevitably fail us, such as money, people, and things, and so we should be cautious not to let those failures prevent us from embracing faith as an important part of our lives.

As we come to experience a deeper sense of faith in our lives we discover that this world is a different place, a more fruitful and fulfilling place, for our faith opens doors that were otherwise closed, providing new meaning and purpose and gifting peace, hope, and joy into our hearts. Faith enables us to live our lives with a complete trust that our words and actions will serve others and ourselves, and that our existence has immense value and purpose, even if we are unable to see or feel it at the moment. Allowing faith to be an integral part of our lives is really us saying, “Yes, I want to live my life to the fullest,” for we understand in our hearts that it is all worthwhile and deserves our full cooperation and effort. And really, that is what faith is all about… it is an acceptance of the idea that there is a much better picture than we are aware of or can comprehend, and a willingness to contribute to that picture, even knowing full well that we may never see the finished product ourselves.

The times in my life which I have found to be the darkest–in which despondency seemed to overwhelm me the most–were those in which I held very little faith. Yet when there was trust in the God–when I allowed myself to live my faith and actively participate in it with excitement and enthusiasm–I felt most alive. Faith gives way to hope, serenity, and joy, all of which lighten the burdens upon our shoulders and brightens our days; and life is simply too valuable and short for us to carry unnecessary burdens and excess baggage around.

Living in faith enriches our time here on Earth. And when we can trust in ourselves enough to allow our faith to grow wherever our hearts tell us are true, loving, and honorable, we will experience that deep peace and “intellectual magnificence” that allows us to be.

Take time today to think about what faith means to you.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people want us to adopt their versions of faith? If they need others to adopt theirs, then is what they have really faith?

How much of faith is related to letting go?

How might we expand our faith by strengthening our trust, be it in ourselves, others in our lives, or our God?

For further thought:

“To have faith where you cannot see; to be willing to work on in the dark; to be conscious of the fact that, so long as you strive for the best, there are better things on the way, this in itself is success.” ~ Katherine Logan, The Cornellian, Vol. 125

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To Give Well

“Giving presents is a talent; to know what a person wants, to know when and how to get it, to give it lovingly and well.” ~ Pamela Glenconner, Edward Wyndham Tennant: A memoir … 

Giving is such an important element to living a life rich with purpose and meaning. It provides necessities and brings nourishment to those around us, and can give us great happiness and satisfaction. It can help us to feel better about ourselves and our ability to touch the lives of others in need. It is a powerful expression of love that pours life, vitality, and happiness into the lives of the recipients, encouraging them to extend those blessings on to others and pour them forth into the world. And yet we often are focused primarily on the personal benefits we receive from our giving that we tend to overlook the positive impact that our gifts might have in the lives of others or think about it to only a small degree. As gift givers, we have the responsibility to give a gift that will really make the person receiving it happy and fulfilled, and not simply give a gift that we feel they should want.

This means that giving a gift is a talent, as Pamela points out. Perhaps you know someone in your own life who has this talent, someone who has made a difference in your life through a gift they have gifted you. Such individuals tend to have it down to an art; they are the ones who really listen when people tell them what they want, who pay attention to who the person is and not what they think the person should be, and we should aspire towards should be examples for us to aspire to this level of genuineness. After all, we all have the ability to pay attention to the people in our lives–to get to know them, understand them, listen to them when they speak, notice their likes and dislikes without imposing our own likes and dislikes on them. This might even mean giving a gift to someone that we would never have imagined giving, simply because we know that they would really need it or like it.

We share our love with others when we give of ourselves “lovingly and well.” In doing so, we tell them quite simply that we care about them enough to pay attention to them and get to know them, which truly is the most amazing thing we could give to someone who is important to us in our lives.

Take some time to listen to what is going on in the lives of those you care about.

Questions to consider:

Why do we so often tend to put so little thought into our gift-giving?

How might we learn more about what our loved ones truly want, and how we might give that to them?

How would you feel if someone were to give you just the right gift at just the right time? Is that a feeling you would like to give to someone else?

For further thought:

When I think of giving as an art–a creative expression of my Christ Light–I pour more of myself into giving. I tune in to ways I can support others and give meaningful gifts that will delight the receiver.

Divine ideas come to mind as I shift my focus away from “things” to the art of true giving. As I write a letter to a friend with whom I’ve lost contact or give an encouraging smile to a struggling stranger, I know that just what is needed is mine to give. I am inspired to give more as new creative expressions of giving come to mind. Knowing that the circle of giving is also receiving, I am grateful for all that I give and all that I receive.

~ Art of Giving, from the Daily Word, November 2, 2009

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Learn From Mistake Or Failure, And Put It Behind

“Having harvested all the knowledge and wisdom we can from our mistakes and failures, we should put them behind us and go ahead, for vain regretting interferes with the flow of power into our own personalities.” ~ Edith Johnson

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life… enough that I can surely continue to harvest the knowledge and wisdom from them for the remainder of my life. And although it is wonderful that I am able to gain valuable and positive wisdom from my mistakes or failures, I must labor to reach a point in which I can leave those mistakes or failures behind me and move on, as Edith points out here. For just as a farmer stops harvesting once the crops are depleted, I, too, must move on to another field or season once I have harvested all the knowledge and wisdom that I can.

When moving on from the mistakes and failures of the past, it is helpful to keep in mind that putting them in the past does not diminish the significance of them, and neither does it lessen the importance of making amends if anyone else was involved or hurt. It simply allows us to continue on with our lives and to place our focus where it is most necessary and effective–in the present moment and all its possibilities. Maybe I said something hurtful yesterday. I have the option to learn from that mistake and not repeat it, or to allow it to affect me still today. But if I do the latter, I may be afraid to say anything at all, or too preoccupied with regret, and in effect lose many of the opportunities available to me today.

If we are aware of our mistakes and failures and recognize them for what they are and what they have to offer, we can certainly learn a lot from them. But we should also remember that what is done is done, and we still have plenty to do in our lives and plenty of moments to live through today.

Learn from a recent mistake or failure, and then put it behind you.

Questions to consider:

What have been some of your worst mistakes? What have you learned from them?

Why do we sometimes hold on to mistakes and allow them to affect us for long periods of time?

How can we be sure that we’re putting mistakes behind us?

For further thought:

“Like most people, Aunt Hattie Mae explained, I saw my mistakes as failures–setbacks and defeats to disappoint, depress, or demoralize me. What they really are, however, are opportunities. Because it is from our mistakes that we learn the lessons we need to develop and grow. . . . Mistakes aren’t just our teachers; they’re also our motivators. They cause us to reexamine our choices, revise our plans, and, in some cases, reconsider the way we live our lives. And change them for the better. . . . The person who makes no mistakes doesn’t usually make anything. And when you learn to see your mistakes for what they are–compulsory education–the harder you fall, the higher you’ll bounce.” ~ Patti LaBelle

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We Are All Entitled To “Do-Overs” In Life

“There might be false starts and do-overs. You are entitled to experiment before you find your calling.” ~ Jane Pauley, excerpt from Providence College commencement speech, 1995 … 

You can recall a few different chapters of your youth in which you felt sure that you knew what you would be doing for the rest of your life.

A lot of us like to figure things out ahead of time–our education, our careers, our relationships, our marriages, our families, our place of residence. But what if we restrict ourselves to the confines of yesterday, many of us will end up feeling unfulfilled or end up burning out early in life because we end up doing something that may bring us money but leaves us feeling empty, or investing ourselves into a relationship with someone because they fit the bill of who we imagined ourselves with, but end up feeling incomplete. This often leads us to feel like we are stuck in a rut that we cannot get out of–especially if we have a family who depends on us.

If we are not honest with ourselves, we may someday find ourselves facing the realization that our first choice of careers were not necessarily our best options. However, they do not have to be our last choice of options either, for in the search for our calling in life it may take us several tries to get it right, and we might have to start over again and again, but we always have the option to decide now to start down another path. And if we allow ourselves to adopt this perspective in life, we will be open to change and happiness will be our guide.

If you ever feel like you have failed to find your true calling in life, do not lose hope. We are all entitled to do-overs in life–we will all need them at some point in the journey. Just do you best to love the work you find and commit to, and be open to all of the opportunities that come your way.

Try doing something that you enjoy in life.

Questions to consider:

Why do we often feel pressure to start our careers earlier?

What kinds of things do you really love, and do you feel that you are really good at? Are you working in that area?

If you could do things over, which field(s) would you go into and why? Are there opportunities for you to work in that field or those fields now?

For further thought:

“What you need to do is think of work as “vocation.” This word may seem stilted in its tone, but it has a wisdom within it. It comes from the Latin word for calling, which comes from the word for voice. In those meanings it touches on what work really should be. It should be something that calls to you as something you want to do, and it should be something that gives voice to who you are and what you want to say to the world. . . . a true vocation calls to you to perform it and it allows your life to speak.” ~ Kent Nerburn, Letters to My Son

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