Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving: The Power of Choice

Unemployment is at an all-time high, and here come the holidays, which means stretching money to buy gifts and answering questions from family and relatives about why you aren’t employed yet and what you plan to do about it.           

Those of you who are familiar with me know that while I provide specific direction and advice, I also believe that what you think is what you create.           

Everything is always in a state of flux, constantly changing into new forms depending on the force of whatever causal elements are focused on them. All objects are made up of atoms, which have energy, and are constantly moving.  Atoms, manifested, become substance.           

Simply put, substance is held in place by the power of your attention until – or unless – you create a new thought or desire. An inhabited house retains its essence much longer when lived in, while a deserted one falls apart much faster. Curse your car everyday, and it will give you problems just as surely as plants respond better to loving attention.           

Recognizing that manifestation is an end-product, be aware of what you give your mental and emotional attention to.  But let me be clear: it’s a conscious choice, which is why I talk about knowing specifically what you want in your job. Focus your desire on achieving it. Know what it must be composed of and what it looks like. We are in complete control of the quality of our experience, and to a large extent, the characteristics of it.  

Your situation is what it is. If you don’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude, because you have the power to make that choice. Happiness breeds happiness, sorrow breeds sorrow, and conflict breeds more conflict.

So this holiday season, you can stress out, whine, think about how little money you have, and how everyone else is employed and luckier than you, or you can think about something else – like how much you have instead of how much you don’t have.            

Because no matter what’s going on with you, someone else always has it worse.

Some people who have jobs, hate them and wish they were unemployed, but it’s nice to have a regular paycheck while you’re job hunting, isn’t it?   Others are unemployed and worry about money, but these people have no restrictions on their time.  They can shop in off-peak hours and job hunt full-time.

My point is, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so take whatever it is you don’t like, and choose to find the good in it.

There is something very profound about gratitude – expressing it for the smallest thing and expressing it often. If you think lousy negative thoughts, you have lousy negative things happen to you. If you think thankful positive thoughts, you’ll find little windows of blessings opening all over. Try it if you don’t believe me.

That’s not to say life doesn’t get hard. Be thankful for that too. It’s in times of crisis that we learn who we are, precisely because we have the ability to choose who we want to be in response to the crazy things that are happening to us. Start looking at problems as opportunities. Make that a conscious choice.

Instead of “Why don’t I have a job yet?” say “Hey great! I got an interview!” And it’s not “I can’t believe they didn’t hire me!” but rather “It’s probably a blessing I didn’t get the job anyway. I know the right one is waiting for me!”

Here’s an exercise for everyone – employed or unemployed, happy or unhappy. Pay attention to your speech. Pay attention to your thoughts. Stay conscious in the moment, and see how many times you think or say something negative. When you catch yourself, turn it positive.

Every hour, actively look for things around you for which you can be grateful.  Finish every day by naming five things that happened to you that day for which you are thankful. And yes, I do this too, just before I fall asleep.

It can be as small as discovering you still have strawberries in the refrigerator when you thought they were gone, to suddenly noticing the gracefulness of a bare tree silhouetted against the sky.

Notice what you take for granted: your car starting, having a house when foreclosures are up, having food to eat. You have friends who care, a place to sleep, clothes to wear, and the ability to breathe.  Be thankful, and stop taking these things for granted.

From a child’s simple prayer to exclamations of “Thanks a lot!” the business of being grateful seems like straightforward stuff. Yet recently, research has increasingly studied gratitude and other positive emotions. People who are grateful experience less stress and depression.  They’re less materialistic and more spiritually connected.

A sense of gratitude also has been found to speed healing for people who have experienced loss or trauma. This holiday season, think of all the things you have to be grateful for, and then when the season is over, keep the gratefulness going.

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