1. Crayons: When things look blue, use a different color!
We often forget that light is actually made up of a spectrum of color, a spectrum so vast that we can’t possibly even imagine the rainbow it would create. We are capable of seeing only seven colors in God’s paintbox (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). But just from those seven we can create an infinite array of color through combination. When there are so many possibilities, why limit yourself to just blue? Believe it or not, you have been given the power to color your world however you like it! There’s something to be said for rose-colored glasses. So look at your life through the spectrum you’ve been given and pick a new color that resonates with the emotions you want, instead of the ones you’re feeling, and see if that doesn’t add a little beauty to your day.
2. Picture Frame: When you don’t like your circumstances, reframe them!
What’s the old adage concerning real estate? It’s all about location, location, location! Well, when it comes to life, it’s all about perspective, perspective, perspective! That’s what your picture frame is for, to help you gain a new perspective. Hold it up and look through it. What is the painting that is revealed in those four corners? Now without stepping out of place, shift your body to look again from another angle and you get a completely different picture. If color and light are God’s paintbox, then all of life is art and you are a masterpiece. Try shifting your view of whatever is troubling you to gain a new perspective. How is your situation beautiful? How is it helpful? Can it teach you something? Where is it enjoyable? You already know where it’s miserable, painful, ugly, and difficult. You don’t need to look through that frame anymore.
Let me give you an example of biblical proportions. When Joseph is betrayed by his family, sold into slavery, wrongfully accused, and imprisoned in a foreign land, we can see his story as a classic tale of woe. The injustice of it all! Or, we can view his experiences as the vehicle that brought him to his divine purpose, fulfilled his sacred contract with Yahweh, and allowed him to champion lessons that are still informing the lives of people today, thousands of years later, all over the world. Lessons like forgiveness, faith, and surrender. One thing I’ve come to realize lately, if you can’t be happy right here, you can’t be happy anywhere. If you can’t be happy right now, you never will. Not because better, brighter days aren’t ahead, but because happiness, and it’s much more stable cousin— joy, are dependant on internal conditions, not external ones.
3. Rubber band: Be flexible!
The Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese sacred text, says:
Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight
A perfect example of this is the martial art, Aikido, which is a completely defensive technique that teaches its practitioners not to resist attack, but to go with the flow of their opponent’s movements and use the momentum of those attacks to throw the opponent off balance and effectively disempower them. Applying the same principles to life means that you stop seeing every situation or circumstance that is not to your liking as an attack or a battle that must be fought. Instead, you see it as a dance, a courtship between friends. Meet your life head on, with a smile and open arms. How can you embrace your current situation?
Eckhart Tolle says that it is not our circumstances which cause us to suffer, but our resistance to them. This is not to say that you cannot or should not experience loss or pain. Instead, it means that the greater suffering always come from our psychological and emotional resistance to that loss or pain. Whenever we say, “This shouldn’t be happening to me!”, “I don’t deserve this!”, or “This isn’t fair!” we are resisting our circumstances mentally and emotionally. The way to overcome this hurdle is to accept. When you can say, “This is what is,” then you can begin moving forward. It doesn’t mean you condone it. It doesn’t mean you prefer it or even approve it. It simply means you accept it.
If your car is stuck in the mud, bemoaning that fact will not loose it. Nor will denying it. Only until you can step back and say, “Yes, my car is stuck in the mud,” can you begin the process of thinking and acting to release your car and move forward along the road of your life. The more time you spend in denial or suffering, the more energy you waste on being stuck, and the longer it will take to extricate yourself. As the Tao Te Ching goes on to say:
Therefore the ancients say, “Yield and overcome.”
Is that an empty saying?
Be really whole,
And all things will come to you.
4. Book: Tell yourself a new story!
We are all story-tellers, though we may not realize it. Everyday, we tell ourselves the Story of Me. In this story, we recount our childhoods and our primary relationships, like family, partners, and friends. We repeat our successes and our failures. We recycle all the deep emotions we have experienced, and we lick our wounds. We reinforce our sense of self, or the ego, with the ceaseless narration of our minds. Like worn puzzle pieces, we fit and refit all these experiences together to form the image we carry of ourselves. And all the while, we rarely, if ever, realize that we are the ones doing it. Like magic, we think these things have come together of their own accord to shape us. This is to be truly powerless.
When an author writes a book, it is the author who holds all the power. Not the readers, not the characters. When someone tells a story, it is the speaker, the narrator, who has control of how the story will begin, progress, and end. If you are unhappy with your self-image, then start telling yourself another story. To do that, you must first identify the one you are telling now. Then, rewrite it! There is the story of all I’ve lost, or there is the story of all I’ve gained. There is the story of my sufferings, or there is the story of my joys. In any case, the most important thing to remember is this: You are not your story. You never will be. However good, however bad, you are not the story itself, you are the awareness behind your story. That makes you the narrator, the characters, and the audience! When you can seize on that, you will know your own power.
5. Movie: You are starring in your life!
Guess what, you are starring in this thing called life. You get to be the hero! Are you acting like a hero? Would you want to watch your movie? If you don’t like the script, throw it out! Give yourself permission to write new lines. If you don’t like the costume you’re wearing, which is your ego or self-image, toss it! Give yourself permission to wear whatever costume you like most. If you aren’t a fan of your co-stars, fire them! Give yourself permission to act alongside people who help you shine. If you despise the set, find a new one! Give yourself permission to unfold your role in whatever setting suits you best. Maybe your movie lacks funding or maybe it lacks direction, but the cameras are rolling just the same, so don’t wait for what you think you need to play a great part. Start acting like the star you want to be. The time is now. Action!
6. Present: You are a gift!
Did you know that you are God’s gift to the world? How happy would the world be to receive you right now? Remembering that we are a gift allows us to give of ourselves every day, and by correlation, it also allows us to receive. Camie Walker, who founded the 29 Gifts Challenge, says that she now knows that whenever she says no to something she really wants to try, she is in a scarcity mindset. The intention of her challenge is, “to help people become more conscious and learn to celebrate the gifts they already give everyday.” But so many people say they can’t give right now for one reason or another. The truth is, all that’s needed, according to Camie, “…is a shift in perception so you're mindful of the gifts you offer to the world.”
Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are in a position to give. Giving opens us up to the world outside our own mind. It opens us to the myriad of ways we can and do bless others every day. The thing is, giving & receiving are the yin & yang currency of the Divine. They are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. The best cure for scarcity, lack, poverty, or need is to give. Always. As the flow of blessing moves through you, it changes you and your own life as well as those you give to. Inexplicably, gifts and blessings begin to make their way to you. And for maybe the first time, you can really receive them! You know they are simply a manifestation of the divine exchange you are interacting with.
And remember, money and giving are not the same thing, so don’t confuse them. When you give your time to help someone, when you give a stranger a smile, when you give advice, or even a friendly attitude to the check-out girl at the store, you are being a powerful giver. When you give the birds in your yard a fresh drink or give the nature around you the gift of your alert, admiring presence, you are being a powerful giver. And that energy will start to show itself to you in powerful, transformational ways.
7. Feather: Lighten up!
I’m not talking about laughter or comedy, though there are plenty of times the circumstances in our lives can start to feel like a cosmic joke. I’m talking about releasing our cares! What a burden it is to care! Did you know that there is a huge difference between love and care? When you care, you are personally invested, your ego is all tangled up in the person or thing you care about, even if it’s yourself. But when you love, truly love, it has nothing to do with you at all.
In ancient Egyptian mythology, the goddess Ma’at weighed the hearts of the dead against a feather. Those whose hearts were lighter, moved on to paradise, those whose were heavier, were devoured on the spot. It sounds gruesome, but actually, the same principle was extolled by Christ thousands of years later when he said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). For the Egyptians, the heart was the home of the soul, or spirit. In order to enter paradise, one’s spirit had to be lighter than a feather, meaning they had to be free of all the cares of the world. To be poor in spirit is not to be weak, it is to be unburdened. When we release our cares, we become lighter in every way. It is this state of liberation that is known as paradise, heaven, or the
And it is available to you right now, if you’ll only let go. You can drag
nothing there with you. kingdom of God
Author Caroline Myss says, “Lead is any form of unfinished business, such as hatred, bitterness, unrequited love, or regret, that contributes harm to your body as well as your spirit.” Like an alchemist, you can transform the lead in your life and refine it into gold. How? “Every act of surrender earns a timeless intervention…Thought comes into form more rapidly when you are not dragging chronological history, or time, in your energy field like Marley’s chains.” Marley is the ghost from Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, who forged the weight of his eternal chains in his lifetime as Scrooge’s business partner. It is a powerful image. Time manifests in your life as guilt or shame in association with your past, or worry or doubt in association with your future. Like links in a chain, these faces of fear will hold you back from the Divine paradise prepared for you. As with Ma’at, when we don’t release them, our cares consume and devour us. So lighten your load already!
8. Eraser: Erase your mistakes!
Did you know life comes with its very own eraser? It’s called sunrise. Everyday is an opportunity to start fresh. Everyday we have a clean slate. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. Everybody makes mistakes of all shapes and sizes. We are supposed to. It’s imperative to our growth. It’s how we learn. But you can’t learn from those mistakes if you decide to take up residence in your failures. If you live in the space of everything you didn’t do, didn’t accomplish, or didn’t get right, then you despise the lessons carefully constructed and designed for you. And you cannot enjoy the space of all the things you have learned, accomplished, or achieved. To quote the Tao Te Ching again:
High winds do not last all morning.
Heavy rain does not last all day.
If heaven and earth cannot make things eternal,
How is it possible for man?
Nothing is meant to last forever, except the Divine. We cannot remain in the space of our failures if we are to be with God. Nor can we remain in the space of our successes. We must move with each new day, each new challenge, as the Divine does. So embrace the clean slate you are given every morning. Take hold of that eraser and wipe out yesterday, last year, or even five seconds ago. Be present. Being present is living in the center of your clean slate.
9. Candy: Enjoy the sweet things in life!
Believe it or not, there is something pleasurable about this moment. And the next one. And the next one. Your challenge is to find it. Whatever your current situation, there is always something to savor in life. Maybe it’s the loved ones you get to share this lifetime with. Maybe it’s an old friend or a happy memory. Maybe it’s the way the sun sets the landscape alight from where you’re standing. Maybe it’s as simple as your breath. Whatever it is, find it and ride it for as long as it will last. If it’s a friend, give them a call. If it’s the sun, bask in it. If it’s your breath, then breathe as deep as you can. Be really present with it. Eckhart Tolle says he receives letters all the time from people in prison who have read his book, The Power of Now, and claim to be finally free. If a man in prison can savor the sweetness of liberation, then how much more can you find to cherish and enjoy?
When you find that sweet spot, take it one step further and share it. Tell someone your happy memory. Take a houseplant or pet out to enjoy the sun with you. Breathe life into your surroundings. The good things are always better when shared.
10. Trash bag: Take out the garbage!
Boy, do we have a way of collecting crap! In our lives, in our bodies, and in our energy fields. Why we choose to hold onto to the rot of yesterday I’ll never know, but we do. And what’s more, we cart it around and spread our stink all over the places, people, and things that surround us. As though that makes the view better! It’s going to be pretty hard to cram anything worthwhile into your life if it’s overflowing with garbage. We take out our physical garbage every day, why not all the rest of it? Most of us would never allow the trash in our bins to stay there and fill up our houses until all we see and smell and taste is garbage, but there are people who do. They call those people hoarders. Theirs is an ultimate habit of self-destruction. What are you hoarding that’s weighing you down and junking up your perspective? Look around you. Are there people in your life who drain your energy with their negative outlook? Are there items in your home that remind you of things you’d rather forget? What’s gone stale in your life?
Now take a good look within. Maybe your attitude stinks. Maybe your outlook is grimy. Maybe the worries have piled up around you like wads of old paper and fruit peels. Fill your bag every day, morning and night if you can, with all the things that no longer serve you, inside and out, and get rid of it! Think of yourself like a hot air balloon. All those bags of sand are holding you to the earth, they’re anchoring you. That may feel steady, safe, and familiar, but it’s just no place for a hot air balloon. You have to loose those bags one by one so you can rise to the destination set for you. That includes releasing the need to know why…why you are where you are, why things turned out as they did, and so on. You were created to be buoyant, have a little faith in your design.
There you have it, ten tools to help you dig yourself out of the hole you’ve found yourself in. They are all you will ever need to get out of any crises, no matter how big, if you choose to use them. If you don’t, then the truth is that there is nothing in heaven or earth to free you and you may as well get comfortable.
“Only through realizing the futility of spinning our wheels in the direction of personal control do we finally wake up to the truth that we are in control of nothing other than the moment when -or if- we can finally trust that our Sacred Contracts are governed by a force of wisdom much greater than our own.
That is what surrender looks like.”