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How to Be Good - A Very Tough Problem

At the turn of a new year it’s natural to be reflective about the state of the world, a gloomy process this year. The world is filled with bad actors, who are easy to condemn. But complaining about them does us very little good, while a great deal of good can be done by flipping the coin and asking what it takes to be good.

 

To have a grounded sense of self, it’s necessary to feel that you are a good person. People who consider themselves bad are generally defeated and abused, wracked with guilt and shame. So where does goodness come from? This turns out to be one of the toughest problems tackled by religion, philosophy, and now science. Finding a scientific way to make people act morally is a long-standing dream going back at least two centuries when Utilitarians tried to base morality on a calculus of pleasure and pain. The notion that making goodness a pleasant experience seemed fruitful, especially combined with painful punishments when someone disobeys the moral rules.

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As We Clean up the Dirt… Let There Be Light…

This week is an interesting one given that we begin with a serious New Moon on Monday, providing us an opportunity to make intentions for how to say goodbye to 2017, real and clear.


Then we close out the week with the Longest Night (in the northern Hemisphere/ opposite Down Under) followed by the Winter Solstice where we celebrate the rebirth of the Light.


Speaking of which I’m going to do a special Facebook Live on Friday the 22 at noon EST to celebrate- yes I am doing readings! You must come!


Symbolically this season is so rich with metaphor, that if you pay attention, you really can see the connections between all of it. Yes we’re still being invited to clean up the dirt in our lives in the last week of mercury retrograde, refusing, reassessing, re-calibrating, revisiting, repairing and reinforcing. Even though this is the symbolic time of greatest darkness there is so much Light being called into the world right now it’s amazing.

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What I’m Hoping to Do More of This Holiday Season

This week, I’ve been thinking, feeling, watching, listening, and taking stock of my life. It’s been hard not to do this, as I’ve spent time unpacking all of the items that I packed up while preparing to evacuate from the wildfires.


I’ve been taking stock not just of the “stuff” in my life, but of what’s really important to me these days. On Monday, I sat down with my friend Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, who has devoted his life to studying the places on earth where people are healthiest and happiest. Our conversation really got me thinking deeper about what I value and whether I’m really leading a life where my values line up with my actions. (You can watch our conversation below.)

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What Do You Need To Eliminate Before 2018?

As the holidays kick into high gear, I am thankful and a bit overwhelmed as I fill in my calendar. There are parties to attend, dinners to organize, presents to buy, decorations to hang, and visits from out-of-towners, friends, and family to prepare for. As I anticipate the month to come, it feels like my to-do list is infused with a sense of accumulation. Although I look forward to the abundance and merriment of delighting in the decadence of December, I also feel a strong sense of urgency to resolve and handle certain issues so I do not carry them forward into 2018. And the good news is there is still time. 

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A Year of Softer Living

Last January at the start of 2017 I stood around a fire pit with my Saturday morning yoga group. Each of us held a piece of paper. On these pieces of paper were things that we wanted to let go of for the new year: fear, discontent, self-deprecating behavior, unhealthy relationships, negative self-talk. Some of the women shared what they were ready to burn up and leave behind. Others kept their intentions to themselves. Only the fire would consume and know everyone’s hopes for how their life would look in 2017.

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Mad Kings, Court Jesters, and Public Insanity

For many people the current instability in Washington, coupled with a President who combines irrational whims, vindictiveness, and amorality, has become much more than alarming. A prominent figure from the Obama White House publicly mourned that we’ve gone from despair to disbelief. Something insane seems to be happening, and it’s happening in broad daylight while the keepers of sanity stand by helplessly.

 

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Embrace your Imperfection (video)

I had a project I was procrastinating that was long overdue. I kept waiting for everything to be exactly perfect before I started it, yet that time never came. The concern that people weren’t going to like it if it wasn’t top notch loomed over me for weeks. Yet the guilt for not completing it hung right next to it.

 

That started me wondering why I was so concerned about it being “perfect.” Then it hit me…that was what had been drilled into me. From the time we are a child in school through adulthood working in our career, we are “graded” on the quality of our work. This can cause fear, which leads to stress, which leads to the dragging of feet, which leads to more stress.

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How To Deal With Failure, Grow and Find the Gift

When things don’t go according to plan or work out how you intended, it can be a huge disappointment and let down, especially when you have invested so much time, energy, and money.


It’s easy to judge yourself as a failure and beat yourself up harshly. But this serves nothing.


When you try so hard and your dreams don’t happen, it’s easy to question yourself and even want to give up on the dream itself.


But what if there was no such thing as “failure”? 

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Waking, dreaming, and sleeping happen in you

Many years ago, Science magazine declared that one of the most important and unanswered questions in science is What is the universe made of? Today, we still don't know the answer.


Part of the problem is that we, as human beings, are part of the very universe we are trying to understand. Therefore, it goes without saying that if we don't understand our own nature, we are likely to misunderstand the nature of the universe.

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Butterfly Effects

The aptly named “butterfly effect” has become well known in recent years as people begin to take seriously the interconnectedness of all life on our planet, as well as the nature of energy itself. The name refers to the possibility that the movement of a butterfly’s wings affects the world around it in unforeseen ways. The greater truth of this idea resonates within my own life again and again, often quite literally.

 

Several weeks ago, I reread Sharon Salzberg’s book Faith, published in 2002. I had read it then, but I was moved to take it off the shelf again because its title called to me strongly. As my spiritual journey has deepened, I have found myself repeatedly stepping off the edge of certainty (or the illusion of it) into the unknown. Over the past two months, everything seemed to fall away until I realized that I was being asked to move forward completely on “faith.” Thus my reason for rereading Sharon’s book. With each chapter, I saw how much more deeply I connected with it than I had 15 years before.

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5 Tips to Stop Seeking Approval from Others

I spent 13 years as an actress and in that time I learned that it wasn’t my job to make sure the auditors or audience was loving my performance. My job was to live in the moment and focus on my craft.  

 

What did that mean?  

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Are You Highly Sensitive?

One of the biggest AHA moments of my life was when I discovered that I wasn’t crazy…. I found out that being super sensitive to loud noises and bright lights (and more) is actually a condition with a name – it’s called being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

What a relief it was to discover not only a name for my peculiar reactions to life, but that there are also solutions. (Some are below!)

About 20% of the population is born with heightened sensitivities. One definition of HSP is described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity.

How do you know if you are an HSP?

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Surrender - Must We, Really?

Most teachers of Spiritual Elevation get to it: Surrender and your life will transform.


But doesn’t Surrender mean Giving Up? ‘Cos that doesn’t sound like something I want to do. For example:


One path we shall never choose, is the path of surrender, or submission.”  –John F. Kennedy

Or:

“If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.”  —Jesse Jackson


In fact, we’re talking about a different kind of surrender. It’s commonplace to say; but (I have found) it can
be difficult to do. “Let Go, Let God”…”Go with the Flow”…Or:


”All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.”
–Blaise Pascal


One of my favourites is: “Don’t Push the River.” That comes from the patriarch of Gestalt psychology, Fritz Perls. One of the reasons I like it is that it “flows” naturally into what for me is the clearest analogy for this, the kayak and the river.


I like having a handy image that explains Surrender, as it’s something I think of a lot.

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Gratitude - A Friendly Reminder

The other day I had a conversation… Well, I listened to her as she talked via this awesome app called Marco Polo. It probably has been around forever and I am just now getting into the shoestrings of it.

 

What can I say? I am not a techy.

 

Anyways, the app is a way to keep in touch with people in a more personal way than texting or even sending a pic of yourself on your latest adventure. You record your message and the recipient can listen to it whenever they get a chance and actually see your darling face! It is like having a real conversation with a real person.

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How To Let Go Of A Dream To Open Space For Something New

You have a dream that used to mean everything to you, but now it's no longer aligned with who you are and where you're going.     

 

There are countless books on how to go after your dreams and bring them to reality, but there is far less material to help with letting a dream go. There may come a time where deep down you know it's time to let a dream you once cherished go. Despite your internal knowing, feelings of guilt may loom and you may feel like a failure for not 'hanging in there'. There's a high probability you'll have a hard time letting go. You'll have to learn how to move on.

 

In life there will be dreams that come to fruition and those that don't. Some dreams no longer resonate and therefore aren't designed to be realized.  All dreams occupy energetic space. You have to let go of dreams that no longer resonate to open space for bigger, better and more aligned dreams to come in. However, deciphering when to keep pursuing a dream and when to let go is not an easy task.

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What is the importance of respecting each other’s differences?

Back in the early 70’s my audiences were all between 15 and 25 years old. They wore white, they all had flowers in their hair, and they all smiled a lot, and we would meet so that we could review the maps for our inner journeys.


So one night I was lecturing to my constituents, and in the front row was a women about 70 years old with a hat with strawberries and cherries on it. She had a black patent leather bag and a print dress and solid black oxford shoes. I looked at her and thought, “This is not an ‘acid head’, what is she doing here?” I figured somebody brought her for some reason and how bizarre. I started to talk, and talk about these very far out places of the mind and everywhere I went, she’d be going like this (nodding), and I got absolutely obsessed with her, you know. I tried saying different things, and she’d be going along.

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The Power of No

I've been thinking a lot this week about the word "no."


No is a word that has great power in our lives and in our society. And yet, it's one of the most challenging words in our vocabulary.


Every time I've heard "no" in my professional life, I've challenged myself to defy it. To go around it. I've used it as fuel to keep fighting—whether it's in chasing a hard-to-get interview, or in proving to doctors and researchers that Alzheimer's does indeed discriminate against women, even when they told me it doesn't.


In fact, all of the Architects of Change we feature in this week's Sunday Paper have heard the word "no" at some point. Some have heard it from others, who told them that what they wanted to achieve could not be done. Others have said it themselves, declaring that one thing or another in our society is unacceptable and that they won't rest until they've done something to change it.

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I've Been Thinking: The Power of One

I've been thinking all week about the power of one. One moment. One person. One action. Any of these can change your life forever.

It takes one person to fall in love with you to change your whole world around for the better. It also takes just one person with violent intentions to turn your world upside down.

All week long, we have listened and read stories of heartbreak, anguish, and pain about beautiful lives that were cut short. Lives forever altered. Families forever changed. Love stories that will never get their happy endings.

All week long, we have also listened and read stories about individuals who stepped into the line of fire to save someone. Often, these were total strangers who risked their own lives to save another. Individuals like concertgoer Jonathan Smith, who raced to rescue at least 30 people from the scene in Las Vegas. He was struck by two bullets in the process, then had his own life saved by another brave individual, off-duty officer Tom McGrath.

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I've Been Thinking

"America is an idea. America is the greatest idea that the world ever came up with." — Bono


I just love that quote from Bono because it's so true. America is definitely the greatest idea that the world has ever come up with. 


Now, that doesn't mean our nation is perfect. It doesn't mean we don't have problems. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep striving to do better. It just means that the idea that defines the bedrock of this great nation is still the greatest idea ever. May we not lose sight of that.


America was founded upon an idea. We were also founded by people who took a stand. That's our heritage, and it’s part of what makes the idea of this nation so great.


This week, there has been a lot of discussion about taking a knee and locking arms. There has been a lot of discussion about how to respect our flag and our “National Anthem,” about how to acknowledge and address racism, and about how to define what it really means to be an American.

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Why It’s Important to Let Go of Hobbies that No Longer Serve You

Every year at the end of March I get excited about planting my garden. Whether the Midwest air has turned a corner toward warmer days or the threat of frost hasn’t quite left, it doesn’t matter. Once April is in my sights, I start thinking about what I want to grow in my small garden for the season. It’s a ritual I’ve enjoyed every year for more than 10 years. Watching the fruits of my labor (yes, pun intended) blossom into something nourishing for my family served me a tremendous amount of joy. The garden is where my youngest daughter and I experimented with different varieties of tomatoes, tried our hand at growing watermelon, laughed when we pulled vines from the ground and discovered potato-like roots (tubers, for those of you wondering), and were genuinely shocked the first time grape tomatoes grew from the previous years’ fruits that we left rotting away over the winter. Working in the garden was a new experience every year.

 

Unfortunately, though, time marches forward.

 

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

Join Soulspring for conscious insights...

...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind