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Archive for the good life Category

Discovering Meaning: Living and Loving the Good Life

Id like to warmly and humbly share a gift with you today in honor of Fathers day. For the rest of this month you can listen to the audiobook, Discovering Meaning, for free! Discovering Meaning: Living and Loving the Good Life is the second of four audiobooks in the BirthQuake: Journey to Wholeness series.

The Birthquake: Journey to Wholeness series is one of those rare finds written by a psychotherapist that not only enlightens, inspires, and comforts it befriends and embraces the listener. Its the culmination of the authors many years of research, clinical experience and perhaps most importantly, her own life lessons. The BirthQuake series is an invaluable tool for anyone who has ever struggled or stands anxiously at a crossroad.


Listen to Part One


Listen to Part Two

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Alphonse osbert muse at sunrise

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heres to your wild and precious day..

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What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte Today is national Poetry Day and so in honor of the event, Id like to share a poem by one of my favorite poets, Barbara Crooker. One of the things I love most about Crookers work is how wonderfully she reminds us of the poetry that exists within the ordinary.

Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, We are All Writing Gods Poem

Today, the skys the soft blue of a work shirt washed
a thousand times. The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step. On the interstate listening
to NPR, I heard a Hubble scientist
say, The universe is not only stranger than we
think, its stranger than we can think. I think
Ive driven into spring, as the woods revive
with a loud shout, redbud trees, their gaudy
scarves flung over barks bare limbs. Barely doing
sixty, I pass a tractor trailer called Glory Bound,
and arent we just? Just yesterday,
I read Li Po: There is no end of things
in the heart, but it seems like things
are always ending—vacation or childhood,
relationships, stores going out of business,
like the one that sold jeans that really fit—
And where do we fit in? How can we get up
in the morning, knowing what we do? But we do,
put one foot after the other, open the window,
make coffee, watch the steam curl up
and disappear. At night, the scent of phlox curls
in the open window, while the sky turns red violet,
lavender, thistle, a box of spilled crayons.
The moon spills its milk on the black tabletop
for the thousandth time.

Today I urge you to look around you and behold the poetry

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j0433335

How easy it is to judge ourselves, so much more difficult to unconditionally love the struggling imperfect selves that we are. And yet, I have come to believe that this is our most essential task to love. To not only love others, but to love the unique, one of a kind spirit that came into the world as you. And to love the troubled but still beautiful world that took you in.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the others welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Wolcott

Imagine how your life would be different if just for today you feasted on your life.

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frampton Saint Dorothy

I listened to a talk by Jean Houston on Gaiam TV today and was moved tremendously by one observation she made in particular. She noted that each of us gets wounded during our life times, and that if we live long enough, we become so full of holes that we ultimately become holy.

My own life has taught me that my wounds will ultimately diminish or enrich me, depending largely upon whether I meet them with a closed fist or an open heart. Ive also come to understand to my amazement that an ordinary day can be transformed from the mundane to the holy not so much by what happens during the course of it, but by what questions I choose to ask of myself when I first encounter it.

Michael Beckwith urges us to ask the following three questions each and every day.

How can I grow?

How can I give?

What can I celebrate?

Ive found that every morning that I ask myself these three questions and then commit to living the answers by the end of the day, my life is so much more likely to be experienced as the profound gift that it is.

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Today was a perfect autumn day, the kind that calls me out of my head and into my senses. The kind that finds me with my car windows rolled down and the music loud. The kind that makes me feel giddy and free. The kind thats drenched in vibrant color and sunshine during the day, and graced with the scent of baking apples and cinnamon at dinner time. The kind that says to me, hey, just maybe you can spend each and every day living in radical amazement each and every day even the hard ones.

Theres such sweet celebration and melancholy in autumn temperatures drifting down, mists rising, the ancient choreography of birds embarking on their long migration, the harvest moon an enchanting paradise so soon to be lost as nature once again begins her inevitable journey into the frigid arms of winter.

While the autumn advances and the leaves deepen and dazzle before relinquishing their hold on the bodies that have sustained them, my mothers own grasp weakens as her cancer progresses and her spirit quickens. My love of nature has never been more acute than in autumn and I have never loved my mother more fiercely than right now.

I walk along the shore of Wolfes Neck woods, hear crows cawing in the distance, tilt my face up towards a gentler sun that caresses now instead of scorches. Im both awed and saddened at the same time. I wonder how much of life is at its most beautiful just before dying. Is this the truest bitter gift of death, that life becomes oh so much sweeter?

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. .get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Ammidst the loss, the longing, the life, and the love, I am amazed

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In a short TED talk, Nancy Etcoff, evolutionary psychologist and faculty member at Harvard Medical school, discusses (among other things) what cognitive science can tell us about the ways in which we attempt to achieve and increase our happiness, how surprisingly little it has to do with our circumstances, and its effects on our bodies. Some of what she shares may very well surprise you.

Heres one brief quote from her talk, people are happiest when in flow, when theyre absorbed in something out in the world, when theyre with other people, when theyre active, engaged in sports, focusing on a loved one, learning, having sex, whatever. Theyre not sitting in front of the mirror trying to figure themselves out, or thinking about themselves. These are not the periods when you feel happiest

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Diane Ackerman wrote in the New York Times, A relatively new field, called interpersonal neurobiology, draws its vigor from one of the great discoveries of our era: that the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life. In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you. A message well worth reminding ourselves of daily.

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Economist and professor, John Jelliwell, presented an excellent talk at the Dali Lama Center entitled, Money, Generosity, and Happiness. The talk is only 20 minutes long and I believe its well worth the time it takes to watch.

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What is the good life? The late comedian, George Burns, concluded that he had had a good life. Scott and Helen Nearing (homesteaders and social activists) maintained that they had lived the good life too. George Burns life was vastly different from the Nearings and yet I suspect that those who knew them each well would have agreed that each of their lives had been well lived.

So many people long for a particular version of the good life that theyve heard so much about, one thats filled with images of luxury and wealth. Sadly, all too many of them struggle to achieve this vision in spite of the significant emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, and ecological tolls that are exacted along the way.

Interestingly, while the notion of the good life seems to be deeply implanted in our psyche, its origin stems from the dreams of those who came before us, and meant something entirely different than what so many of us have come to yearn for. The world was introduced to the concept of the good life by William Penn and Henry David Thoreau and was a vastly different version than popular cultures turned out to be. To them, the good life represented a life style based on simplicity, personal freedom, meaningful work and spiritual, psychological and intellectual growth and development.

As the economy continues its downward spiral and the impact of global warming intensifies, it seems more important to me than ever that we redefine for ourselves what living the good life can be.

Writer and philosopher, William Henry Channing wrote, To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To listen to stars and birds and babes and sages with an open heart. To study hard, think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions. Never hurry. In a word, to let the spiritual, the unbidden and the unconscious rise up through the common. This is my symphony. Channings image of the good life is one that moves and inspires me. This is the good life that can only be denied to me by barriers of my own creation, otherwise, it is always within my means and within my reach. Today, I plan to celebrate my good life.

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