"Gratitude, Forgiveness, Kindness… and Love"
Hello, my friends.
As I sit down to write this, it's 4 days before Christmas, and though it will probably be after the holidays before it gets to you, I can't help reflecting now, in the spirit of the season, on some of the things that I've found to be important and helpful in this daily struggle we like to call, "life."
Several years ago, I was really into the book, "The Secret," by Rhonda Byrne - I was particularly fond of the audio version, and listened to it nearly non-stop in the car and during my workouts at the "Y." One of the cardinal principles in that book is the idea that if we focus on finding things to be grateful for, we will attract more of them.
Mary Sue even bought me a little companion volume, "The Secret Gratitude Book," which is essentially a blank journal in which I'm supposed to list the blessings in my life, plus the things I'd like to attract, written in present tense as though I already have them. I haven't been very consistent about using it, but I do find that every time I sit down and re-read what I've written, it makes me feel really good - and really grateful. Invariably, I can even manage to find a way to appreciate my problems.
"The more I know, the less I understand…But I think it's about… forgiveness." - Don Henley
Many years ago now, a man was going around town saying some terrible things about me, and to this day, no one in my life has ever hurt me more. The most difficult thing about it was that every time I thought I had gotten past it, I'd hear something new, and the old wounds would be opened up again. I'm the type of person who actually will lie awake at night, thinking about such things, even if everyone else in the world seems to love and appreciate me.
Ultimately, this old fellow died, and I even tried to go visit his grave and have the talk that we could never seem to have when he was living, but wouldn't you know it - he was buried in a mausoleum, and the door was locked.
The bottom line is that whatever wrongs I thought this man was doing me, he must have felt justified, and surely I must have wronged him in some way as well. I have to fall back on that fundamental belief that I've always had, that we all share a common core of goodness, and that there's always a reasonable and understandable explanation for what people do, no matter how terrible and hurtful it may be. Ultimately, the inability to forgive can only be destructive, while acceptance, nonjudgment and unconditional love lead always to the higher path.
"In the end… only kindness matters." - Jewel
I've always been a big Jewel fan, and every time I hear that song, or read those words, I'm struck by their simple truth. Kindness has been defined as, "helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped." Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if THAT were the guiding principle of our lives?
In my own practice, I've found that the simple act of looking into people's eyes, really listening to what they have to say, acknowledging their concerns, and laying my hands on them with care will do more than any procedure I might perform. The true challenge is to remember to do those things in the course of a busy day, and to remember that NOTHING brings me better results, or more personal joy, than practicing in exactly that way.
"All you need is love." - John Lennon
Each of the virtues we've been talking about - gratitude, forgiveness, kindness - is of course a subheading under the all-inclusive and all-victorious One, Love. If each of us could find a way to live our lives from Above, Down, and from the Inside, Out - in other words, if we could get our "selves" out of the way and let God express Himself directly through our hearts, without that infernal interference we like to call, "thinking," we would undoubtedly find life a lot easier, and find a lot more health, happiness and peace in the process. And as we look forward in anticipation toward a new and wonderful year, this is my honest and sincere wish for you.
Wishing you health, happiness, and peace
Dr. Frank Bowling