Category Archives: being Respectful

What are the top New Year’s resolutions for ‎2011? Should you consider them and find yours? While the order of the top New Year’s resolutions changes from year to year, and from source to source, these are some common evergreens as highlighted by About.com:

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2. Fit in Fitness
3. Lose weight
4. Quit Smoking
5. Enjoy Life More
6. Quit Drinking
7. Get Out of Debt
8. Learn Something New
9. Help Others
10. Get Organized

What are our New Year’s resolutions ‎2011 tips? We’ll provide them the AmAreWay :-) AmAre in Italian, means “to love”; in English, interconnectedness: (I)Am (we) are. As a framework for success, transition, and happiness, AmAre stands for being:

* A – Aware and Accepting
* M – Meaningful and Motivated
* A – Active and Attentive
* R – Resilient and Respectful
* E – Eating properly and Exercising

We become Aware of current conditions, resources, strengths, goals: what is our priority for 2011? Changing one aspect involves changing its components as well, however we need to keep focus: we cannot change/do everything at once. Once we are more aware, we decide to be Accepting and appreciate the qualities which are already there. We all have rich qualities!

We see what is Meaningful for us, instead of making a resolution just because it seems everyone else is. We become Motivated to implement it, here and now.

We are Active in cultivating our resolution, and Attentive about results and feedback from action.

We Resilient in face of difficulties, or simply when things take longer than expected to be achieved. Remember, the first month is very important when it comes to implement resolutions, so let’s make sure each day contributes to our committment. And we are a;sp Respectful, because we are aware other people have their own goals and resolutions as well.

We consider Eating properly and Exercising to support our course of action. Proper food and regular exercise re-energize
our mind and body.

And, above all, happy new year!

frank

Marcello Spinella, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Richard Stockton. He kindly agreed to share his research about The Practice and Benefits of Loving-Kindness. Below, we provide his introduction to the topic, while the whole article “The Practice and Benefits of Loving-Kindness” is available in pdf format.

Few people think of kindness and compassion as something that can be exercised and developed like a muscle. More often, we think of it as something that is triggered in knee-jerk fashion by an external situation. However, if we look closely, we can see that in any given situation, whether or not we react with kindness and compassion involves making choices. It may be easier to react this way in some situations (e.g. a helpless infant) and harder in others (.e.g. during an argument with an adult), but the aspect of choice nonetheless exists.

Fortunately, there are exercises to develop these characteristics and anyone can reap the benefits of doing so. Many people are familiar with mindfulness meditation, which involves observing one’s own internal experiences (e.g. thoughts, emotions, memories, sensations). But there are also meditation exercises to develop loving-kindness and related characteristics. Rather than just observing experience, this kind of meditation involves actively evoking thoughts of kindness and allowing them to naturally develop and flourish.

The whole article “The Practice and Benefits of Loving-Kindness” is available here.

Develop a mind full of love

December 25, 2010

Develop a mind full of love; be compassionate and restrained in virtue; arouse your energy, be resolute, always firm in making progress

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation – Dan Siegel Google Tech Talks presentation on “Mindsight”
Dr. Dan Siegel gives a presentation on “Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation” at Google Tech Talks:

A course in happiness: book

November 15, 2010

A course in happiness, meaning, motivation, and well-being: how to be happier, purpose-driven and flourish” is our new book which offers tools to assess one’s well-being, and approaches to live a happier, purpose-driven and flourishing life. It will be released in early December, right in time to facilitate awareness, motivation and action with your new year resolutions :-)

A course in happiness, meaning, motivation, and well-being: how to be happier, purpose-driven and flourish – Book release

A course in happiness, meaning, motivation, and well-being” is different from other well-being books, because it offers a framework which is, at the same time, coherent enough to be easily remembered and implemented, and also flexible enough to be applied in different context and aspects of life. Click here to read the full story, see the book’s index, etc.

Q: It is very hard for me to not be discouraged and depressed. It is a time of seeing truths and hopefully growing in spirit, but the truths are very negative. It is seeing self-centeredness in people, especially my family, which breaks my heart, and a lack of love. I examine myself, and feel I’m putting love out, but since it doesn’t come back, feel a lacking in myself. I long for closeness, caring, I pray and meditate on positive instead of negative results, but have yet to experience those results. — G.

A: Dear G.,

“Discourage” comes from Latin roots meaning to be torn apart from your heart. So let me give you some heartening news: It’s not a bad thing to be disillusioned. Your seeing of truths and growth in spirit – which allow you to make even difficult observations – are part of a process of waking up. What hurts is the shattering of fantasies: that someone else might fill a lack you feel, that what you give comes back to you with some degree of immediacy. For you to go through grief under the circumstances seems perfectly natural: You want love in return, and it doesn’t come, at least not in full measure; you want closeness, and instead you meet up with others’ self-centeredness.

Your grief marks a turning point in which you can clearly see reality and, rather than let life come to you, rise to meet it by building in yourself confidence, hope, and fortitude. You’ve already started this process by focusing on the positive, especially in your relationships with your family. What causes your discouragement and depression is that you hope these changes in you will bring outer results. Reality is proving you wrong. It does sometimes happen that when you change, you tip the balance in your relationships and they improve. But it also happens that you can change and others refuse to budge.

That’s exactly when you need to “take heart” and remember what a wise friend once told us, “Life is good so long as you remain strong.” Find what nurtures you and draw it to yourself. Build a prayer or meditation practice. Walk in Nature’s healing splendor. Find an animal companion who loves you for who you are, no holds barred. Read inspired literature; listen to uplifting music. Eat foods that bring you health. Be charitable, in the trust that the ripples you send into the universe DO come back to you even if you don’t feel or recognize them because it’s often a roundabout process. Let yourself feel outrage when reality doesn’t match your expectations, and then use that outrage as fuel for building a better world. Rest when you need to, even if only for the space of a few quiet breaths. Clothe yourself in the qualities you wish you could see in others, knowing that this adornment will “catch on” in any other hearts open to change.

In all these ways and more you can build your courage to become the kind of person you wish to know. And then, you will always be in the good company of at least one person (you!), and, by virtue of resonance, you’ll gradually find others around you who also know how to inspire by their presence. There’s the paradox: You can’t count on things getting better, but if you don’t lose heart, they naturally will get better.

Blessings on your journey,
Patricia Carlson

Teaching Gratefulness

October 27, 2010

Q: Can one teach gratefulness? I find that a person is either grateful or not. — Sister Mary Peter, Huehuetenango, Guatemala

A: Well, it is true that some people may seem less gifted with regard to being grateful. The reasons could be that they’re just generally less alert to life around them; or they may feel a strong need for independence; or they may be emotionally scarred.

It takes a certain level of alertness to recognize the gift character of any situation, person, or thing. Recognizing isn’t even enough. We must acknowledge our interdependence with others before we can genuinely enjoy the give-and-take which sparks gratefulness. We must also be emotionally ready. If we have been made to feel rejected and left out, it may be difficult to truly celebrate gift giving and receiving.

But there is good news: Yes, it is indeed possible to teach and learn gratefulness. A good starting point is surprise. We can cultivate surprise at waking up to another day, surprise at whatever the weather happens to be that day, surprise that there is anything rather than nothing! How come? And how come we don’t think to ask “how come” more often?

Children have a natural ability to marvel. They are little philosophers in this respect, for, as Plato said, all philosophizing starts with wonderment. It is easy to encourage children to look at the world with amazed eyes. For teaching and learning gratefulness, a magnifying glass can be an invaluable tool. Another teaching aide is a simple soap bubble blower, which contains several thousand incentives for wonderment.

Of course, in order to be taught, it is necessary to want to learn. But who would not want to learn, once they see that the smallest act of gratefulness triggers immediate feedback. Gratefulness unlocks joy. Nothing that we take for granted gives us joy. Yet the smallest surprise, received gratefully, yields a harvest of delight. As a teacher, you can look for moments of wonder, multiply moments of wonder, to share with your students — children or adults — so that even the crustiest and most hardened among them suddenly catches on to the fact that whatever there is, is pure gift.

In Daniel 12:3, we read, “Those who show many the way to life will shine forever like the stars in the firmament.” What better way to a fuller life than teaching gratitude? I can just see the eyes of children light up like stars as gratitude takes hold of their hearts. And to think that this multitude of stars will sparkle forever!

Patricia Campbell Carlson and Br. David Steindl-Rast contribute to A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L), dedicated to providing education and support for the practice of grateful living as a global ethic. Their posts here are on: http://www.amareway.org/holisticlivingtag/a-network-for-grateful-living/ Visit www.gratefulness.org.

Grateful to Whom?

October 21, 2010

Reader: Your web site is very informative and interesting. I believe in living in gratitude and I try to practice it every day. My question is: to whom are you asking us to be grateful? God, god, gods, nature, the universe? Thank you for your help. — Danny

Answer: Dear Danny,

Thank you for your kind words about the website and for your commitment to practice gratitude. Let me turn your question around and ask: To whom are you grateful? The answer differs from person to person. One person may come from a strong religious tradition which praises God for all the gifts of this life. Another may recognize how much has been given by her ancestors or the Earth, and she may direct her gratitude to these abundant sources. Yet another may say, “I don’t know to whom I am grateful! All I know is that sometimes my life seems to overflow with a feeling of fundamental well-being, even – oddly enough – in the most difficult moments.” There is no rule book that deems one of these approaches as more valid than another.

Twelve Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon speak of turning to a Higher Power, “whatever you conceive that to be.” To understand this from a gratitude perspective, you can use the metaphor of receiving a gift. Sometimes the source is obvious. You are grateful to water for quenching your thirst. You are grateful to the golden oak for the inspiration that its beauty is to you. You are grateful to your best friend for his companionship.

But some gifts are less obvious: To whom do i owe my ability to love? To whom do i owe my very life? Throughout time these gifts have evoked in the hearts of human beings a great sense of wonder. You may even wonder why there is anything at all! If you do not already have a perspective on who the Giver of All Good Gifts is, then why not live in amazement, as you would if someone gave you a diamond but did not leave their name? Is not your very astonishment at this overwhelming, secret generosity its own form of gratefulness?

Imagine what a different world this would be even if we were just grateful to the obvious sources: If we valued and respected the Earth for her bounty! If we revered elders for their years of hard-earned experience ripening into wisdom! If we appreciated children for their refreshing insights, sheltering them as we would a rose given to us by an angel! If we could affirm ourselves for our attempts to know and understand life better! Whether or not we believe in an unseen benevolent Power, we need only look right before our eyes to get started on a journey of thanks-giving.

Kind regards,
Patricia Carlson

Patricia Campbell Carlson and Br. David Steindl-Rast contribute to A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L), dedicated to providing education and support for the practice of grateful living as a global ethic. Visit www.gratefulness.org.