In this issue ~~
The new year is always a time to reflect on the past and look to the future. It's a time to celebrate our wins and victories, let go of our struggles and losses, and set new goals and dreams for ourselves. There's a freshness, a sense of having a new chance at life.
We're living in challenging times. This past year has been a difficult one for many, with job and personal losses and the impending threat of terrorism and war. It can be tempting to succumb to fear and hopelessness. Or we can raise our sights and use our imagination to lift us out of the dark place.
Most of us are adept at negative imaginings – we have no trouble seeing the worst possibilities. As artists, we also use our imaginations to create things of beauty. We can use our creativity to envision and bring forth a positive future, inspiring ourselves and others.
The world is changing. The visionaries speak of a "new world," an evolution of humanity. We can take the events in our current world at face value, fearing the end times, or we can see them as the birth pangs of that new world. Our worldview is changing, and artists have traditionally been on the cutting edge.
There is much reason for hope. We need to continue seeing what's possible for ourselves and the world. Difficult times don't mean we have to give up our dreams. Our parents and grandparents lived through the Depression, and many prospered. We need to remember that life happens in cycles. Some of those cycles are longer than our lifetime, so we don't always see them. The Depression didn't last forever; it was followed by decades of prosperity, as will our current time.
While there's a tendency now to hunker down and protect your security, there is also a call to get in touch with what really matters to you. Despite the precarious job market, more and more people are realizing that they can't put off their dreams forever and are deliberately walking out on jobs they can no longer tolerate. Some part of them is compelling them to take a leap of faith into what they anticipate will be a more fulfilling and happy life. In light of all that has occurred, the risk no longer seems so huge. Others are seeing being downsized, not as a tragedy, but as an opportunity to make a change they've been putting off, to pursue a more desirable path.
It's important to hold onto a sense of optimism. I'm not talking about sticking our heads in the sand and acting happy. It's about understanding how things are in the world and still choosing to look forward, to keep taking steps toward creating your future, to be the strongest, most courageous person you can be. They say that living well is the best revenge. If we use this time as an opportunity to retune our lives and make them better, then the terrorists have lost.
Times like this force us to dig deeper into ourselves and rise to the challenge. Rather than fall into despair, we can look inside and see what we're being called to do. It can be a time to grow and to surprise ourselves with the strength we already have. Instead of knuckling under, we can look to the future we want to create and live by that vision, taking it one step at a time.
It may seem like an overwhelming task to change the world, but we're not doing it alone. There are thousands of groups and individuals around the world actively working to improve their lives and those of others and to make the world a better place. We don't hear about them much, because doing good is not newsworthy, but they're there, quietly working in the background. Each participant counts, and no contribution is too small. Getting in touch with who you authentically are and then living that is one way to do it.
To start the new year on a note of courage and hope (and a little playfulness), I invite you to make one Big Wish for yourself – something so far-fetched or improbable that you don't expect to achieve it all. Hold it out there as a possibility and see where it leads you.
Use this year to brighten up your little corner of the world,
to make it a more fun and joyful place for you and, in doing
so, to lift the whole world to a higher place.
Take a look at the various activities you do in your life. Some of the things we do, particularly the longstanding ones, become habitual and unconscious; we do them on "automatic pilot." Take a look at those in particular and consider: 1) Are you still getting benefit from doing them? 2) Are you doing them in the most advantageous way? 3) Is there something else you could be doing that would get you the desired result in a better way?
"This is the precious present, regardless of what yesterday was like, regardless of what tomorrow may bring. When your inner eyes open, you can find immense beauty hidden within the inconsequential details of daily life. When your inner ears open, you can hear the subtle, lovely music of the universe everywhere you go. When the heart of your heart opens, you can take deep pleasure in the company of the people around you. . . . When you are open to the beauty, mystery, and grandeur of ordinary existence, you 'get it' that it always has been beautiful, mysterious, and grand and always will be. This is the precious present."
"The very act of envisioning a better future can in itself initiate change."
"In these days of scrambling to make a living, it may sound 'unrealistic' to seek purpose and meaning in one's work. As many who survived the Depression have said: 'You get work where you can and you do what you have to do.' Well, yes, but that doesn't mean ignoring purpose. Meaning and purpose have economic as well as spiritual payoffs. If you're committed to the 'Why' of your work, you're far more likely to succeed and make money doing it."
"Live out of your imagination, not your history."
(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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