Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Attachment: How Important Are Your Things?

Most of us don't consider ourselves materialistic I would venture to say. Yet in our success-driven, appearances-matter society, could it be that we have succumbed to this insidious enemy of our souls and not even know it? A recent theft got me to thinking about the value of things and how attachment to things and people can cause us to lose our peace and steal our joy.


Here are a few questions to ponder:
1) Do you have lots of things hanging in your closets with tags still on?
2) Do you have a hard time when you've lost something of value?
3) Do you buy expensive things you really can't afford?
4) Are you big into designer names, expensive cars and status symbols?
5) Do you find yourself holding on to many things from the past?

If you answered, yes to one or more of these questions, this post is for you. Let's first get crystal clear on what materialism is. Google defines it as:

"a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values."

So I was at a restaurant a week ago and took along a jacket because I am always chilly. I hung the jacket on the back of my chair and got up to join some friends on the dance floor. When I returned to my table, my jacket had disappeared. Now, I really liked this jacket. Another lady's jacket was still hanging on her chair. I was mortified. I spent the next few days searching online for a replacement, talking about the incident to others, and in general, feeling miserable. I realized my peace and my joy had been stolen as well as the jacket.

Theft feels like a violation. No wonder the prohibition against stealing is among the Ten Commandments and also the Five Moral Precepts in Buddhism. Stealing causes suffering both for the victim and for the perpetrator.

Since I believe there is a lesson to be learned in every bad situation,  here was yet another opportunity for me to look inward. In my quiet time,  I asked what lesson was I to learn in this unhappy circumstance. Slowly but surely, the answer came.

Why was I so upset about a jacket? Beyond the unethical behavior. Beyond the injustice. Beyond my loss - was there something more to glean from this incident? I knew I wasn't free because I still didn't have my peace and joy back. Could this be an indicator of the value I place on things? Was I too attached to this jacket? Why else would I be suffering?

Life is impermanent. Attachment to anything in the physical realm eventually leads to loss and grief, be it a material possession, a beloved pet, or another human being.Nothing is forever except the love of God. Our health changes. Our jobs change. Our relationships change. Jesus exhorted us to not be too concerned about the cares of this world and how our lives are like a mist that soon vanishes. When we are too attached to anything or anyone, we set ourselves up for pain.

So, I can truthfully say there was a blessing in this incident. The blessing was to increase my awareness of how much I am mentally holding on to things and people, too, for that matter.  I feel this is a liberating realization I need to work on.

What about you? Has this story resonated with you? Is there something or someone you feel extremely attached to? How have you reacted when you have lost something or someone you valued?

As I seek healing, wholeness and harmony in my life, I hope to help you achieve these as well. Suffering is part of "la condition humaine" but I believe suffering has its purpose.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly, thought-provoking posts as well as a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, stay tuned for more on finding igniting the power within and discovering your destiny!

Ariel 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

5 Ways to Get Your Joy Back

Having a tough week? Job stress, no time to exercise, or perhaps you had a run in with a loved one? Maybe your favorite celeb didn't win on "Dancing with the Stars" or your team didn't win the championship.  Often, before we realize it, we have lost our joy. So today I'm sharing 5 strategies I use to maintain my joy but first, a personal anecdote I'm sure you will relate to.

So many things can happen in the course of a day that can steal my joy, if I allow them to. Last week was particularly challenging. Without going into the gory details, let's just say I felt like everything was coming at me at once.

"Looks like it's going to be another one of those days" I remember saying to myself on Monday.

Alas, Tuesday and Wednesday had their challenges as well.

But, I'm still smiling. Yesterday, I went for a massage and relaxed. Today, I took a walk at lunch and enjoyed the chirping of the birds outside as I took a different route. Later in the afternoon, I turned on the radio for a bit, and one of my favorite songs came on and I started dancing around my living room right smack in the middle of the day! Here are some tips on how to keep your joy when times are tough.

1. Step away from the stress.
   When we realize we are not feeling joyful, it's time to  helps break the pattern of stress and get away mentally. If possible, put some distance between you and the situation or the other person. This is not the time to push yourself. Take a walk, listen to music, make a nice dinner, get together with friends. Do something mindless. These all help to let the steam out of the pot.

2. Make time for self -care. 
    Self-care is not selfish. If we don't take care of ourselves, we won't be able to take care of anyone else. Take a hot Epsom salts bath or go to a steam room.  Polish your nails, gals. Get some exercise. I enjoy taking a warm shower and sitting out on my balcony with my cup of herbal tea. When the pressures and problems of the world crowd in on us, it's time to get alone and take care of our spirits, calm our minds, and rejuvenate our bodies.

3. Pay attention to your thoughts. 
  If you're like me, I tend to ruminate. It's a bad habit I've been working on breaking using mindfulness. Scripture exhorts us to "take every thought captive" (2 Cor 10:5). This means paying attention to what I'm thinking about. When we are stressed our minds get into the groove of thinking about the situation over and over. This is not healthy or productive.

I remind myself of the truths I believe in. "Lord, you are in control of everything in my life. This might not look like a good thing to me right now, but I know you can work it out for my good. I will take responsibility for my decisions and actions. I will trust you to work it out. I will rejoice and be glad today."

4. Have some fun. 
    As a single parent for many years, it was hard to find time to have fun. No matter how busy we might be, it is vital to our well-being to schedule downtime and play into our to-do lists. What do you like to do? What takes your mind off your problems? Be sure it's a healthy activity that will restore and energize you, instead of deplete you. Trying something new can be fun.

5. Give it to God. 
     I know I like to be in control. Most of us do to some extent. As a single parent, I did not have any choice. Everything was on me. The truth is there are only some things under our control. Much of life is not and the sooner we come to understand this, the more peace and less stress we will have.  Do what you can to attend to any given situation and then give it to God. Notice we have a part in fixing our problems. We can't just say "Well, God will take care of it." When we do what we can, God will do what we can't.

Joy is an indispensable commodity.  Life just isn't worth living if I can't be joyful most of the time. Yes, we all go through difficult situations and I'm not minimizing what you or I are going through right now. But, I have learned that the tough stuff will keep coming. It is up to us to decide how each situation will affect us and how we will respond to it. The quicker we can let go of unhappy, negative thoughts, the more we can enjoy our life by implementing these five steps.

How about you? Is there something stealing your joy? Can you step outside of your situation and believe that perhaps there may be a silver lining to it in the long run? I can almost guarantee that there is. Don't let the challenges of life steal your joy. Make a decision to be happy and enjoy each day for the gift it is. That's why they call it "the present".

If this article was helpful and you'd like to receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email address in the box provided and as a thank you, I'll send you my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, keep smiling and keep looking up!

Ariel 



Thursday, August 10, 2017

How to Find More Joy - Part 2

This week we're talking about joy: what it is and how to have more of it in our lives. Today I'm sharing on the spiritual component of joy and the difference between happiness and joy. Joy is key to living the abundant life and to igniting our personal power. When we lack joy, we are unmotivated. Each day is a chore to get through and that is not how we were meant to live. So let's learn more about joy and happiness.

Happiness depends on circumstances. Happiness is the temporary feeling we get from circumstances, things, and events like attending a concert, visiting a sunny spot to vacation, buying some new trinket or toy. These bring happiness but not necessarily joy. Ask some of the Hollywood rich and famous.

Joy is different. Joy, the older sister of happiness, comes from deep inside our Spirit. Joy is an eternal fountain that waters our souls. It does not depend on our circumstances.  In fact, joy can still be had even during the worst of times.   “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” -James 1:2
Here's a personal story.
My mom recently lost her husband and at 85 years of age, is now dealing with all the stuff of taking care of a huge house, paying the bills, and basically living a single life after 30 years of being married. So I sent her a letter on how to have more joy to help her cope.

"I got your letter", she says. "But I'm not feeling very joyful today."

Notice the key word "feeling".

Well, there you go. Joy is not a feeling. Joy is a choice and a practice. The fountain of joy stems from the knowledge that God is in control and He allows situations into our lives that might not make us "feel" joyful or happy, but they are, ultimately, for our good, our growth, and our character.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, which means in each of us has been deposited the seed of joy. It is up to us to nurture and grow that seed until it becomes the refreshing fountain we so desire. And that takes a bit of work and some practice. We have a part to play in this whole thing too. But that's for another post.

When you combine happiness (outside circumstances) with joy (inner delight) watch your world explode! You will be jumping up and down like I do and people will think you are crazy! Let them!

Have you ever given thought to the difference between happiness and joy? Hope this post resonated with you.  If you'd like to join our community, enter your email in the box provided and you'll receive my bi-weekly posts and also a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

In the meantime, please post a comment and share with a friend.  I'd love to connect with you.
Stay tuned for more on igniting the power within and discovering YOUR destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 











Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How to Add More Joy to Your Life

Hard to get out of bed in the morning? Has joy all but disappeared from your life? Still battling the same problems and worries you were 5 - 10 years ago? These are all signs we have lost our joy. So how does this happen?



Joy is related to personal growth. It's been said that aging is inevitable but growth is optional. Personal growth is a choice. It takes intention and action. Growth doesn't happen on its own. It happens when we take intentional steps to learn and try new things.  When we grow, we feel more alive, invigorated, and motivated. We look forward to each new day with enthusiasm and passion. We face problems with confidence and determination. Joy pours out of us like syrup onto pancakes. 

Many times it takes a crisis, a setback, or a loss to push us into something new. We get used to our "rut" and our routines. It's hard to stretch.  As I say in my book, "The Power of Faith", rather than viewing these times negatively, try viewing them as opportunities to grow.

Life is a university and the trials we encounter are vehicles designed to move us forward into our destiny. As John Maxwell says in his book "How Successful People Win", there are two basic reasons for our trials:
1) ignorance
2) stupidity

Either we didn't know better or we knew better and failed to act properly.

Although it doesn't feel that way at the time, tough times are really gifts in disguise. Problems help us to mature if we handle them properly. I would venture to say without tough times, we would grow very little, if at all. The tough times show us what we are made of and what needs to change. Most people resist change because they get cozy with the status quo and it takes effort to change. Like the fruit on my counter, if we stay in the same place long enough eventually we will rot. We were made for more. Here's an example.

We all know people who are divorced. I am one of them. Divorce is ugly and painful and leaves us with deep wounds that take time to heal. We have three choices:

1) we can turn angry, bitter, and resentful, or
2) we can live in denial and pretend we are the innocent victim or
3) we can learn the lessons and grow from the pain;

Only the third is a healthy response. No matter how awful the other party may have been, we always have our part to address and our lessons to learn. If we don't learn the lessons, we are doomed to repeat them with the next partner and the next.

When we go through difficult circumstances we learn more about who we really are. I learned more about who I am and how my past and my parents influenced me. When I had serious health issues, I realized I needed to make changes in my diet and my thinking patterns. We are, after all, body mind, and spirit. When one part of us is hurting, the other parts hurt as well. As author Wayne Dyer says, there is a spiritual solution to every problem and I agree. Our souls are trying to go to the next level.

Growth and change don't always feel good at the time. We may experience "growing pains" as we transition into a new season of life, but let me encourage you by saying this. It's all good. Trials can build character and make us stronger. They can uncover gifts and talents we never knew we had. Growth is good for our souls.

Would you like to feel more joy and energy in your life? If so, try adding something new: a new hobby, a new job, make some new friends. Give it some thought and do post a comment and let me know what you plan to do to bring more joy into your life.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll also receive a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, stay tuned for more on igniting the power within and discovering YOUR destiny!

Keep looking up!

Ariel



Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Increase Your Personal Happiness

What makes you happy? Going on a nice vacation? Engaging in your favorite hobby, pastime, or sport? Being recognized at work? Sure these all might be enjoyable for the moment, but what I'm asking is what really makes you happy down deep inside? Ever think about that?

Sadly, many never stop to think about such things until disaster strikes and gets their attention. When we realize that everything we have worked so hard for could be wiped out in a matter of minutes, the light bulb goes on and we stop and think. Is this lifestyle really making me happy?

Life is tenuous. It can be snuffed out in an instant. If your life is not making you happy, change it. You have the power and the ability to change whatever you wish. Life is too short to be miserable. Don't settle for the victim woe-is-me mentality.

Here in Maryland we had two tornedo threats this past week. Now tornedos are not something we usually see in Maryland, so it was "an event". As I watched the ominous dark clouds move like the pestilence over my house, I contemplated my life. Life as I know it could be taken out just like that except for the grace and mercy of God.

We all have something we can offer to the world. I came to the conclusion that what really makes me happy  is what I'm doing now - writing to encourage others. It is my way of giving back and contributing to the world. I hope people are reading these posts and that I am impacting their lives, but if only one person is encouraged, inspired, or touched then it is worth all my time and effort. It is my offering, so to speak. We all have something we can offer to the world.

Each of us has our own gifts and talents. Some of them, like my writing, lie dormant for years, and then, suddenly appear. I never had a clue that I would be a writer and publish a book. By taking time to do some introspection, we gain insight into what we would really like to do, what goals we would like to achieve, and who we would like to become.  Put your gifts to use in some way and they will lead you to your purpose and your destiny.

Becoming aware of our unique gifts and using them to help or serve others in some way, is perhaps the most fulfilling thing in life. There is a deep sense of connection, gratitude, and purpose which I believe are the keys to personal happiness.

So again, I ask you - are you happy now? If not, what would make you truly and deeply happy? It might not be clear at first, but take some time to be quiet and the answers will come. They may not be what you expect, so be prepared and be brave. Following that inner voice takes courage and persistence.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our blog community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts and your copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".  I welcome your comments and your feedback.

Until next time, I wish you true happiness and as always, keep looking up!

Ariel 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ignite the Power Within Step 2: 7 Practical Tips to Increase Your Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy. They've made movies and written songs about being happy. Many people say "I'll be happy when...." When the kids get bigger. When I get a new house. When I retire. When I go on vacation. When I get married. You fill in the blank. There are two problems with this type of thinking.
1)  the when is not in the foreseeable future
2) when we finally receive whatever it was we were waiting for, it doesn't really make us as happy as we thought it would

What about being happy in the meantime? What about being happy today?

As someone who has gone through many turbulent and distressing times, I was determined to be happy despite my difficult circumstances so I gave this concept quite a bit of thought. What does it take for me to be truly happy? Does happiness depend on my circumstances? How I feel on any given day? What's going on in the world around me? How others are treating me? The answer is no - it does not. I can be happy despite all of these things.


actually when u cant see the worth of this moment then ur life becomes miserable:

What I realized is this: the key to being happy is more a state of mind than it is a set of circumstances or a feeling. It means not letting negative thoughts steal my happiness. We can always find something to worry about, to fear, to fret over. There will always be another goal, another project, another whatever to accomplish. Enjoy the journey.

Happiness comes from enjoying the present moment, seizing the day, and living life to its fullest. It means being open to whatever presents itself, good or bad, and responding in a loving and compassionate way to myself and others. I don't have to have everything go my way. I don't have to have excitement, thrills, expensive baubles or a date on saturday night to make me happy. Ok, an occasional date would be nice, but anyway. I don't have to be constantly pushing myself to achieve the next milestone.  As Dale Carnegie once said, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Abraham Lincoln said "People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

The problem is being happy isn't something that comes naturally. The tendency of the human mind is to keep seeking, desiring, wanting something more, or wanting things to be different from what they are.  In Buddhist philosophy, this is known as attachment and craving. In Christianity, Jesus exhorted the rich man to sell all he had and follow Him. He understood the lure and lunacy of attachment.

So how do we alter our thinking so we can be more content? It's a process that  starts with retraining our minds. As the Apostle Paul said "I have learned to be content." (Phil. 4:11). Notice the use of the word "learn". We learn to be happy. It is not something that comes naturally to us. The good news is Paul did it. Jesus did it. Buddha did it. Gandhi did it. And so can we.

Today, I'm sharing 7 tips to help you ignite the power within and use it to transform your life and find more happiness and contentment!

1)  Be more aware of our negative thoughts
2)  Practice gratitude.
3) Appreciate my gifts and who I am as a unique creation
4) Lower my expectations of others and myself
5) Look at the big picture
6) Let go of yesterday
7) Bask in the beauty and love in and around me

Being content is a state of mind and a choice we make day by day, moment by moment. It's an acceptance of what is. When I start to feel frustrated or pressured, I catch myself. "This is not worth stressing about. How can I look at this person/situation with compassion?". We don't have to let the ups and downs of daily life throw us into a tizzy every time. We learn that things will take longer than we'd like, won't go as smooth as we'd like, be more complicated than we'd like. When we change our expectations, our frustration level goes way down.  

If you've enjoyed this post, do leave a comment. If you'd like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided and you'll receive my bi-weekly posts. In addition, you'll receive a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Till the next time when we talk more about igniting the power within and transforming your life!

Enjoy your day and keep looking up!

Ariel

Thursday, July 27, 2017

How to Know When God is Speaking

If you're a parent, you know how frustrating it is when your kids don't listen, right? You keep repeating yourself and it seems no one is paying any attention. I think that is how God feels about me sometimes when I run from one thing to another and don't bother to stop and listen because

     

God is still speaking to us today. The problem is many of us are in way too much of a hurry to slow down and listen. We are so preoccupied with our plans and our agendas, we care little for what God's plans and agendas may be. I have found out they are usually not in sync.

As I recently explained to my youngest son, God speaks to each of us uniquely. He speaks in ways only we will understand. It doesn't matter whether someone else understands, what matters is that you know that God is speaking to you PERSONALLY .

To give you an example, here's a personal story that happened a few years ago.  First, a little background. Over the years, I have dated several men who have been good dancers. The dancing was great, but sadly, none of the relationships worked out long-term and I suffered much emotional pain as a result.

So there's this one guy that I had been dancing with on Friday nights who is a really good dancer. I felt like I was in heaven when I danced with him. Get the picture? One friday night, we danced to a particular song and those few minutes were memorable.

That weekend, the same song played on the radio, and I started dancing around my condo like Liza Doolittle. All of the sudden, the building smoke alarm system goes off chirp chirp chirping and snapped me right out of my revelry. It was quite the rude awakening, you might say.

I knew what it meant immediately."Stop thinking about that guy. You know where it will lead if you go down that path again. Danger, danger." The message was LOUD and CLEAR. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed, but I knew that the message was to protect me from making the same mistake again. Where our thoughts go, we go eventually.

Now you might laugh it off and say it was just a coincidence, but I know when God speaks to me. And there are no coincidences with Him. If you could have been there and heard that alarm go off, it would have scared you smack into obedience too.

God is still speaking to you, too. The best way I can describe it is a strong sense or prompting in your inner spirit. It is easy to dismiss and disregard, but God is trying to guide you and protect you. Start paying attention to that "still small voice". It's almost like a faint whisper sometimes. It's a sensing of someone speaking inaudably.

Ever have something like this happen to you? What was the message? Did you listen or ignore it and what happened then? God is still speaking to us today and He will use any method to get our attention, even smoke alarms. The question is will we listen and obey, or will we not.

If you'd like to learn how to find your spiritual path my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path" will help you along.  Enter your email address in the box provided. You'll also receive my bi-weekly posts. If you enjoyed this post, please click the +1 icon and share it with your friends.

Stay tuned for more on igniting the power within and discovering your destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel