Monday, February 12, 2018

Gratitude opens the way

Gratitude as Foundation
On June 20, 2015, I walked half a block down my street in Austin, Texas, to meet a woman I knew and admired and liked, but with whom I thought I had no “romantic” expectations. I had met her a mere three months before, in March. She had moved to Austin in February. Now in June it was a gentle summer’s day, and we were going to meet for a lunch and “study” session. I was writing a book on radical listening. She was smart and kind and I wanted her input. Her name was Carol Williams then.
It’s Carol Elms now.

We thought we were meeting for an hour and a half. For lunch and a bit of her help on a book I was writing, the precursor to this one.
Twelve hours later, at one am, as I pried myself out the door, to walk the half block back to my home, we both were almost certain we’d met the future lifetime partner that had a day before seemed “almost impossible” to find. I’d written an “almost impossible goal” to find a fabulous woman within walking distance. And an “almost impossible goal” to find a lifetime partner at 70 years old. I hadn’t realized till that night that Carol was to be the answer to that request.
And even with goals and prayers, without our both being immersed in gratitude I don’t think this “miracle” would have happened. Why?

We all thrive in gratitude…
On that night, and since then,  the practice of gratitude was a deeply embedded part of both our lives. Then, as now, I was writing in a “gratitude journal” at least twice, often three or four or five times, a day. Carol, on that miracle day, had a steady background prayer life, of which gratitude and thanks was a significant part. Now she has a gratitude journal, too. Will you soon get a gratitude journal? Only if you want transformation as deeply and easily as possible.
Don’t believe me, or anyone. Test drive gratitude right now.
Mini-game: Think of 3 things you are grateful for. Does something shift?
How does this work?

The Power of Gratitude
Gratitude focuses our hearts and minds on what we like and love in life, what is going well in our life, what we are thankful for and want more of. Instead of wasting time and mental energy on worry or complaining, gratitude allows us to look at life from a peaceful and open heart. With an eager heart alert to what has gone well in the past, we are primed to be looking forward to more “good stuff” unfolding each day.
Gratitude has us focused on what we want more of in life, not what we want less.
Modern research has shown what ancient wisdom has long suspected: the brain (and person) can be in either fear or gratitude.
Carol and I were tuned in to what we appreciated about our lives. This made it far easier to tune into what we could appreciate in the other person. And then, twelve hours after I’d walked in the door, we dragged ourselves apart.

The next day we went to an amazing Austin church together.
Soon we were engaged.
And the deeper “Yes” came on March 5, 2016, the day of our marriage. Our ninth wedding vow (all of which we recite to each other every morning) is: 
We are joyfully creating a long and happy and healthy and enlightened Love, Friendship and Marriage that is getting better and better and better every day.

Every day. Better and better and better.
That usually happens. (Remember “impossible goals?”)
Disclaimer: sometimes it doesn’t. And we get a chance to be grateful to learn, once more, after once more, after once more, one of the keys to developing the Love part of Love, Lust and Enlightenment: When it’s not working, do something else.
Which is actually a key part of business or health or spiritual success.
And humor, too, is key to love, so on days when the better and better and better isn’t working, this phrase can sometimes save our asses (pun intended with phrase coming up): 
And, then, the days that it’s better and better and better, and we…
We touch a lot. Kiss a lot. Have delicious and mindful sex a lot.
We are getting better and better at converting growls into laughs.
We are getting better and better and transforming complaints into ease and self realization and “we goals.” Delicious laughter. (Sometimes. See above.)
And making love.
Delicious lovemaking. More than the fervor of “first two months” sex.
The best of our lives.
Once a day.
Twice a day.
Three times a day.
She is now 68 to my 72. Neither of us have ever had a third as much sex as we are having now. For her before it was several times a month, at best. For me, twice a week.
And now: zowie. As if we were in our twenties. 
We didn’t expect this much bliss, but we sure aren’t complaining.

And… if we can do it, you can.
If we can find a great love, so can you, if you are looking.
If we can have the best sex of our lives, so can you, if you are willing.
If we can keep learning (and learning and learning) how to transform good old fashioned “buttons being pushed” to love and ease and forgiveness, so can you.

This book has twenty days worth of “games.”
If you want to change, you’ll need to enjoy new actions.
All these games are actions you can test out and see what happens.

This book is about transformation, which can be a bullshit word.
Learning is not, though I have yet to ask a teacher of all sort for a definition of “learning” and gotten one this simple and to the point:
Leaning is noticing a difference that makes a difference.
In every game in this book, you will be noticing a difference between before playing the game and after playing.
It’s up to you to play, more and more and more, if you want a better and better and better life.
Do you want a better and better life, a fabulous sex life, a deepening love life, a radical increase in your ability to be present. If so, this book is the place for you.
We can stay the same, or we can change. Before any more overview let’s play the first two “games” and start the transformation/ learning process.
Learning is something that has been discovered (brain plasticity) to be available all our lives, and when it happens, real shifts happen in your brain. Tens of thousands, or far more, neurological pathways are laid down.
Let’s start re-wiring in a fun and beneficial and easy way. We’ll start with gratitude. Gratitude and Love.

Day One: 
Love and Gratitude Game #1:
Notice how you are feeling now.
Say aloud five things you are grateful for. Feel your heart as you say these five.
Notice how you are feeling now.

If you are alone, jot down here a few reminder sentences on what shifted by saying five gratitudes aloud.
My notes on the differences I noticed….

If you do this with a partner, take turns saying the five things to each other, followed by a brief sharing of what difference saying aloud fine gratitudes made.

Really, do it now. This is not a book to “just read” and imagine “doing it” later. This is not a book of “good ideas” for you to give your “screwed up” friends. This is a transformation manual for those who want even more amazing life.
So, do it.
Say aloud five things you are grateful for, and be as present to your body and your voice and your heart as you can be while you do so.

As I’ve said above, you can be grateful or you can be in fear. Can you feel a shift in you when you say gratitudes aloud? Let’s try an even more sure fire way of shifting our energy to being a happier and more loving person. Standing. Letting ourselves feel our more full bodies.
Let’s try:

Day One
Love and Gratitude Game #2:
Notice how you are feeling now.
Stand up.
If there is a window available that has a view of Nature, please go there.
Or, if your life is such that walking out into Outside, to see nature, or going out to actually , Stand in Nature, so much the better.
Feel your body standing up.
Say aloud, five gratitudes. The same ones. New ones. If you can be watching Nature at the same time all the better.
Notice any difference.

If you are alone, jot down here a few reminder sentences on what shifted by saying five gratitudes aloud.
My notes on the differences I noticed….

As, before, if you do this with a mate, take turns. Go outside together if you can. Share the aloud gratitudes and share a bit on what difference that made.

When you do this it’s such a nice excuse to be upright. It’s a nice excuse to return to our hearts. It’s a nice excuse to realize this: life can be pretty wonderful.

And now, to begin something that I hope you institute as a new and ongoing part of your life: Writing gratitudes, daily, in a journal.

Day One:
Love and Gratitude Game #3: Write five Gratitudes.
Notice how you feel.
Get a journal, label it your “Gratitude Journal” and write down five things you are grateful for.
Write slowly.
Feel your breathing coming in and out. Sense your hand and arm moving. Listen in the present to the sound of the pen moving across the paper.
Feel your handwriting as part of YOU pouring out your appreciation for life.
If you don’t have a journal, YET, grab any piece of paper and write five gratitudes.
Notice how you feel now.

If you are alone, jot down here a few reminder sentences on what shifted by writing down five gratitudes.
My notes on the differences I noticed….

As, before, if you do this with a mate, take turns. Write the gratitude at the same time. Then, share aloud the difference that seemed to make.

And now you are launched.
There are two more games for Day One, and you needn’t worry, if you “get behind.”  As long as you are doing games each day.
AND… I want you touching on day one. At least touching one hand with another, and, if you have a partner, touching one of their hands with two of yours.

Change requires change, and the games are to get you into the game, so to speak.

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