It is NOT the Things We Have…Where to Find Happiness

It is not the things we have that make us happy. It is what we feel... George Albert SmithHappiness Through Self Awareness

Are You Happy?

Once we meet our basic physical needs of food, shelter, and comfort our life becomes about maximizing happiness. The challenge is that we often get lost or turned around on our path. We end up seeking many things believing they will bring us to that emotional state we desire. We may get the things, but not the feeling we want. We become disappointed as people turn out not to be who we thought.  Relationships can become the source of emotional drama, insecurity and heartbreak.   Exciting careers lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and burnout. Others may work hard to accomplish their goals only to find that they feel empty and unfulfilled inside.

The Path to Happiness Crossroads

When you take time to evaluate the direction and priorities it may be wise to consider how your thoughts and beliefs affects your happiness.  We have been conditioned to focus on external factors and have missed the most important element in determining our happiness.  Your mind is filled with assumptions, beliefs, and expectations of what will make you happy. These have been collected over years, both consciously, and unconsciously. They affect and even determine our choices in a way that we may not be aware.  Hidden assumptions and false beliefs lead you down road to disappointment, frustration, and other emotional reactions.   Even the beliefs that you agreed to consciously in the past about what would make you happy might not be true any more. What made you happy when you were 20 may not do it for you at 30. What made you happy at 30 might not satisfy you in your 40’s.

We change, our world changes, and yet our mind so often tries to stay the same. People in a mid-life crisis let their mind resurrect an old dream of happiness and feeling from their youth.   Or rather the beliefs of their youth.  A relationship becomes unhappy or even abusive and the mind clings to the joy of the beginning days coated with fairy dust. The beliefs in the mind of hope keeps us trapped in loops of emotional drama and dissatisfaction. Only by clearing your mind of false beliefs and assumptions can we see ourselves and other people more clearly. By freeing ourselves from the limiting paradigms of old beliefs we have a new opportunity to make better choices.

It is Possible to Change How You Feel

Awareness of the mind and how to direct its thoughts, beliefs and emotions, opens new avenues of possibility. Your life becomes vastly different when you are the one directing your mind instead of letting it direct you

Change Your Core Beliefs and You Change Your Emotions

When you express love, acceptance, and respect, you create pleasant emotions within your self. When you express judgments, fear, jealousy, and anger you experience emotional chaos. The challenge is to master your emotional expression. You are the only one who can determine the thoughts you think, the words that come out of your mouth, and the emotions you create and express. The thoughts, choices and interpretations you make are determined by your core beliefs. When you change your core beliefs you change the interpretations you make, the thoughts you think, and the emotions you express. Changing core beliefs is the foundation for changing the emotional quality of your life.

The power to change your life and create happiness resides with you. No one else can change what you believe and what you express. But you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

Self Awareness is the Key to Change and Lasting Happiness

The first step in changing the way you create your life is self awareness. We can also call it mindfulness. You can not expect to change what you are not aware of. Self awareness or mindfulness provides the clarity to choose whether you express emotions of love or express emotions out of reactions of fear. Self awareness provides the possibility to catch your self in that moment prior to saying something destructive, or thinking and believing a negative thought. Self awareness is the means to identify your unconscious patterns and raise them in your consciousness so they can be changed. It is through self awareness that you identify and change the underlying core beliefs that drive destructive behaviors and create happiness.

Self Awareness is Different than Book Knowledge

Self Awareness is largely a function of perception and observation. It can not be learned like academic subjects that fill the mind with knowledge.  It can not be learned from books that give us more information to think about and has us noticing less about ourselves, and the world.  Increasing awareness has more to do with emptying the mind of the incessant chattering thoughts so we can see ourselves and life more clearly.

Change the False Beliefs in Your Mind

Emotional reactions usually stem from your assumptions about how life “ought to be” not from actual events. You create assumptions about people, relationships, business deals, and stocks you invest in. Your false assumptions (beliefs) become the set up to future emotional reactions. Awareness provides the presence of mind to see the assumptions and false beliefs before you invest in them. Clarity allows you to perceive what is really happening instead of following the false beliefs of your mind.

Stop the Emotional Roller Coaster of Reactions

When you no longer live by the false beliefs in your mind you no longer have unnecessary emotional reactions. You can get off the emotional roller coaster that has taken you for a ride. With practice you can choose in the moment not to believe what your mind is saying. This allows you to see the emotional roller coaster coming. You can step back from it and watch it go by without you. You are no longer a victim to the emotions that try to control your life.

Develop Personal Will Power

Having knowledge of a “personal belief” or behavior and a desire to change it is not always enough. Take the smoker who knows their behavior is destructive, wants to quit, but is unable to break the habit. You may have behaviors and emotional reactions that you have been unsuccessful in changing. In this case what is lacking is not just awareness but personal will power. Recovering and developing personal will power allows you to keep your commitments with yourself and others. This is true whether the change is about addictions, emotional reactions, exercise, eating, or relationship habits. One way to recover personal will power is by identifying and changing core beliefs.

When you dissolve a core belief you no longer commit your personal power to that conceptual idea, or spend your energy on emotional reactions. The result is that you have more personal power to break other habits. With awareness you can not only see new possibilities for your self and your relationships, you now have the personal power to make them happen. Changing false core beliefs is just one way to increase your personal power.

Change in your Relationships

By living your life with awareness you will change the way you communicate in your relationships. You will no longer express yourself through the emotional reactions that come from illusions in the mind. You will have the choice and the personal power to express yourself with love and respect. By changing the way you express yourself, people will change the way they respond to you. Relationships are where our false beliefs, emotional reactions, and lack of will power combine to cause the most emotional pain in our lives. Relationship is the area of people’s lives where they yearn for the most change. It is the area where mastering our expression of love can have a profound impact.

Self Mastery through Self Awareness

There are many ways to approach mastery over your life. All of them involve creating integrity in your mind, emotions, actions, and relationships. To accomplish this you will need to understand and have control over your core beliefs, and your expression of emotion. At first glance Self Mastery over your thoughts, beliefs, and your emotions might appear too challenging. However, consider the alternative is to let emotional reactions from false beliefs determine the direction of your life.

Today’s article was written by Gary van Warmerdam and is shared from the following website: https://pathwaytohappiness.com/

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Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 5

You Find What You Look For

I took last Friday off to spend some much needed time with my family prior to my son’s wedding on Saturday. Thank you for understanding!

Because of that family time, I am finishing my attitude of gratitude series today.

The quote I used on today’s meme tells it all: You Find What You Look For.

What a profound statement! I remember so vividly the night that I had my near-death experience. It was proceeded by a phone call from a bill collector. My severe depression and 24/7 migraines had created chaos of our business and finances. I was not able to keep up and several large clients filing bankruptcy had had a profound effect on our bank account.

I tried to explain to the bill collector that I was suffering from severe depression and 24/7 migraines in hopes that she would be more willing to work with me. Instead, she said, in the snidest tone of voice she could find, “You are depressed and sick because you want to be depressed and sick.”

That conversation was the last straw for my depressed mind that horrible, horrible day so many years ago. Thank goodness for the Divine Intervention that followed that night!

I have learned many things since that day. I have walked a path of healing and I have searched and studied hard. I am no longer depressed and I no longer have 24/7 headaches. I now have the health of someone much younger than my actual age. Nothing about my current situation is an accident. It came as a result of learning and following God’s guidance step by step.

Though I did not consciously choose depression or my headaches, I did have to learn a different mindset to overcome my depression. I had to deliberately look for light and goodness. I had to consciously recognize and acknowledge all that I had to be grateful for. And, I had to commit to using those new found skills for the rest of my life. The result? My life and health is better than it ever has been!

Thus far, we have talked about Depending on God, Delving into the Depths of Your Soul (Getting to truly know yourself), and having an Attitude of Gratitude. Those are the first three steps for overcoming depression.

There are no quick fixes. The law of the harvest is as applicable today as it ever has been. The rest of this week, we will share how the use of exercise can help overcome depression. Be sure to stay tuned! I hope you will enjoy today’s article on using gratitude to overcome depression:

Gratitude – A Cure for Depression?

This Is No Fun

Depression is no fun… none at all, I hated it. Obsession isn’t any fun either… all that relentless going over what happened, who said what, who did what, and how unfair it all was.

After a major life crisis I spent the next year, though it felt a whole lot longer, pretty much laying around on the couch bemoaning my life and feeling hopeless, pointless, angry, depressed, bitter and also quite a bit righteous. After all, I was the victim wasn’t I?

There’s A Train in My Brain

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It felt like I had a train in my brain going around and around carrying a relentless pattern of sad, mad, thoughts. I could not turn those thoughts off, could hardly sleep, and found it hard to think about anything else. The train was full of pain and every time it went around I hurt.

When I looked into the future and imagined living with that train long term it made me feel like jumping off a tall building. Fortunately I didn’t even have the energy to climb to the top of one.

Eventually I got desperate enough to go out and look for a way to change things that did not involve tall buildings.

So That’s How My Brain Works

I happened upon a course that taught me about how my brain works, what neural pathways are, and how flexible and changeable the brain is. During the course I had a profoundly life changing epiphany:

“You find what you look for.”

Those six little words changed the way I live my life.

Backtrack

To backtrack a little: I best explain that even during the worst of my depression/obsession I had been very, very, familiar with gratitude as an concept – I loved it.

I had a gratitude journal (mostly empty) and two of my daughters, Georgia & Hailey, had popular online gratitude projects. Unbelievably, given my mental state, Hailey and I had even written a short comedy film script about gratitude. Still, my gratitude journal sat lonely by my bed while I waited, not very hopefully, for something good to happen, something worth being grateful for.

Why Gratitude Works

While the course was not really about gratitude, the science that was presented in the course opened my eyes as to why and how gratitude could work to alleviate depression and why it had not worked for me so far. I began to understand that it isn’t, as I had thought, being happy that makes us grateful; it is deciding to be grateful that makes us happy (Thanks for that wisdom Dr David!).

I began to see that the intentional practice of gratitude, even when you don’t feel like it, has the power to change entrenched negative thinking and rewire the brain.

Very tentatively, and with some difficulty at first, I began to practice gratitude. In a surprisingly short period of time that relentless train in my head was mostly derailed and my depression faded off into the distance.

There are many reasons that gratitude worked for me, here are just a few:

Other Orientation

Brain rules Dr. John Madina

Gratitude practice forced me to start thinking about other people and the way they contributed to my life. I had less time to wallow, gazing at my navel and more time to notice how many kindnesses I was regularly shown. I’d been so self focused that I just took them for granted and didn’t even notice them.

Dr John Medina, author of the NY Times Bestseller ‘Brain Rules’ spoke, during an interview film for our (still in production) documentary Goodness Gracious Me!, about how effective ‘other orientation’ is for getting out of depression.

Lots of Good Chemicals

I found gratitude practice reduced my stress levels almost immediately. There is so much science backing this up – research shows that gratitude practice reduces the stress hormone cortisol and dramatically increases the feel good hormone DHEA. There is nothing like an all natural ‘happy chemical’ cocktail to make you feel better. You might enjoy this page on the Science behind gratitude.

New Tracks

It turned out I did have a train in my brain going around and around on tracks I had laid for it: neural pathways! These little guys are the highways for information travelling through our nervous system and they are built by our own thoughts. It works, very simplistically put, like this: Thoughts create neural pathways and the more thoughts on a subject the stronger that neural pathway becomes. Our brains have to automate most of our thinking just to get through the day so the strongest neural pathways are the default thinking. My nasty, sad, self pitying and angry thoughts had created a super highway and it was no wonder I couldn’t think about much else.

As I began to deliberately think grateful, thankful, good thoughts the more my brain began to think positively and the less traction the old super highway depression pathway had. In time I found it more natural to default to a positive take on things that happened.

Different Picture

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When I said I had had an epiphany around the six little words “You find what you look for.” I meant it.

Just simply deciding each day to look for the good in my life, and express gratitude for it, has meant that my life has become filled with good. The more I look for good things in my life the more my brain becomes alert to good things, scans for good things, and finds good things.

It is hard to be depressed when there is so much good around. Previously my brain was wired to scan for bad, and it was exceptionally good at finding it.

Named My Own Game

Once I understood how my own thoughts could play a part in depression I realized that I was often making the choice to replay certain things for a variety of self-serving reasons.

Firstly I had developed a victim mentality – starring in a victim role comes easily to me and I have learned to become more aware of it, avoiding it as often as possible. Bad stuff happens to everyone and it is my choice if I let myself play the victim.

Gratitude teaches me that I am not a victim but the undeserving recipient of so much beauty and grace.

Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

Another game I was playing was the sympathy game – if you are depressed people treat you kindly and give you sympathy – yay! Gratitude is teaching me to give empathy to others and stop making myself the center of my own, and everyone else’s, attention. I also began to glimpse how draining on everyone my misery was – not a pretty sight.

I also secretly enjoyed knowing that I did not have to be strong and self controlled if I was rolling in my own misery. Everyone understands that when you are miserable it’s hard to be strong and so there is tolerance for much self indulgent behaviour. Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

My own experience tells me that gratitude is a powerful antidote to depression, many people I talk to feel the same way.

mountains joy awe

Feeling grateful brings emotions of awe, wonder, happiness and joy, to name a few, and those emotions shove depression aside.

As I have researched the subject of gratitude I have come across loads of scientific studies that back up my own experience regarding depression. I have looked a little at depression research too and more and more there is an understanding that our own thoughts have a huge role in this affliction.

Certainly the widespread acceptance that depression is just a chemical imbalance or a random disease is under review among many scientists and psychologists at the moment.

Kill Depression With Kindness

Which brings me to my other depression killing tip: Random acts of kindness – if all else fails for me, and I find myself getting a little down, I just go out and do secret acts of kindness for strangers and friends. Works every time!

This article was written by Toni Powell and is shared from the following website: http://gratefulness.org/grateful_living/gratitude-cure-depression/


smiling woman Toni Powell

Toni Powell is a recovering worrywart, author, storyteller and award-winning filmmaker. She spends most of her time teaching people about the life-changing power of gratitude through very funny workplace seminars, professional development for teachers, public How To Have a Happy Life workshops and videos like the surprising, hilarious and helpful video, The Yellow Car.

 

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The D’s of Depression – Depend on God, Part 5

Be kind to you: Don’t bring up your past when you are here to  improve your Future

It may seem like the guidance that I have shared this week has nothing to do with depression…especially overcoming depression. However, depending on God and utilizing His guidance and instruction has everything to do with overcoming depression.

There is no better authority on you and no one who loves you as much as God does.

I don’t know that I know a single person who has suffered from depression who has not been guilty of running themselves too hard or who is not guilty of “beating themselves up”. Both scenarios are best handled through God’s guidance.

God can and will guide you if you need to be forgiven of some misdeed and He can help you learn to love yourself and take care of yourself.

If you are still looking for that magic pill that will make your depression go away without any soul-searching and work on your part – your search is going to be a long, long, long one.

As I began my own soul-searching and work to overcome my depression, it felt like God was taking a humble shack and trying to turn it into a skyscraper. At times, the process hurt and very often I did not like it. However, as always, God knew best. He helped me with the painful but necessary process a step at a time. He knew I couldn’t transform myself in one giant leap. He KNEW I could do it one step at a time. So can you!

It won’t always be pleasurable and it WILL be hard. And…it will be completely WORTH IT!

Our discussion on depression is not going away. We will talk more about it next week. Until then, I hope you will read more of the article I have been sharing this week by Rev. Mark D. Roberts. Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to share some compliments with yourself!:

Spiritual Guidance: For Whose Benefit?

In my last post in this series, I told the story of a woman named Eva who tested what she believed to be the Spirit’s guidance by stepping out in faith. Through doing this, she was able to bring God’s grace to a woman who was in a difficult place in her marriage.

Eva’s example illustrates another vital truth about spiritual guidance: it often comes, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Of course, as the Spirit enabled Eva to care profoundly for the woman on the phone, Eva herself felt gratitude well up in her heart. To be used by God is one of life’s greatest joys! But the guidance Eva received was not primarily for her own blessing. Rather, it was for the healing of another person who deeply needed to know God’s love in a time of personal crisis.

Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit guides us through the maze of our lives if we seek his direction. But sometimes we become so absorbed in seeking guidance for ourselves that we overlook one of the Spirit’s main reasons for speaking to us: so that we might minister to others. When we are prepared to hear God’s voice, we will often be led to care on a deep level for the people God places in our lives. Sometimes the Spirit will lead us by placing a burden on our hearts for a certain person or area of need. Sometimes we will receive even more specific guidance, as Eva did during her phone call. But no matter the precise quality of God’s direction, if we make ourselves available to him, he will lead us into his ministry and empower us for his purposes.

Notice that spiritual guidance both flourishes in the context of true fellowship among God’s people and also contributes to that fellowship. As you are led by the Spirit to care for others with compassion and insight, your relationships will become deeper and sweeter. The Lord will help you penetrate the guardedness that keeps us at a “safe” but superficial distance from each other.

Notice also something that has remained implicit throughout this conversation of spiritual guidance. Spiritual guidance comes, not only for our good and for the good of others, but ultimately for the good of God. The Spirit guides us so that we might “do the good things [God] planned for us long ago” (Eph 2:10), and these things are all part of his plan for the cosmos. As we walk in God’s will, we derive personal benefit. The people around us are blessed. But, even more significantly, God’s purposes are being fulfilled through us. As my friend Buddy says, “Guidance from God is also guidance for God.”

When you pray, “O Lord, please show me your will,” you are acknowledging that God has the right to direct your life. God is sovereign, not only over all creation, not only over all history, but over you. The King of kings and Lord of Lords has every right to govern you, and you ought to follow his guidance because of who he is.

But we seek and abide by God’s direction, not only because he is our Master and we are his servants, but also because God’s ways are the very best, both for him and for us. Even when God seems to guide us along treacherous paths, even when walking in his ways denies our thirst for instant gratification, even when obedience to his call requires sacrifice and suffering, we follow him because “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Rom 8:28). As we discover God’s purpose for our lives and as we walk in that purpose, he works in every part of our lives for our own good.

 

This truth about God reminds me of a wonderful scene from The Sound of Music. Maria had set her heart upon becoming a nun and was in the midst of her candidacy to join a religious order. But her ability to accept the disciplines of convent life was in question. So, the leader of the abbey, who exercised complete authority over Maria’s life, sent her away to serve as the governess for the incorrigible Von Trapp children. To Maria’s surprise and horror, she unintentionally fell in love with their father, Captain Von Trapp. Fleeing back to the safety of the abbey, Maria tried to bury her love for the captain, a love which would surely compromise her commitment to becoming a nun.

When the abbess finally gets Maria to talk about what happened at the Von Trapp home, the confused girl confesses her love for Captain Von Trapp. She begs the Reverend Mother for the opportunity to make her religious vows immediately, thereby removing forever the possibility of marrying the captain. But the abbess does a most surprising thing. Rather than accepting Maria into the holy order and protecting her from a marriage that would preclude her becoming a nun, the Reverend Mother orders Maria to return to the Von Trapp home. Disregarding Maria’s urgent pleas for admission to holy orders, she insists that Maria must test her love for the captain and thereby discover God’s will for her life.

Unhappily, Maria submits to the Reverend Mother’s command because she has no other choice. As a candidate for the abbey, Maria has submitted her life to the authority of the abbess. But we can see that this wise woman exercises her authority, not only for the good for her order, but for Maria’s good as well. Her guidance, however authoritative, is supremely wise and gracious, even though Maria cannot see it at the time.

So it with God’s guidance and our response. We obey God’s directions because we should. It’s the only right thing to do. But even when we can’t see how God’s ways are the best for us, they always are. Like the Reverend Mother, the Lord deserves our complete obedience. And, like the Reverend Mother, our gracious Heavenly Father guides us into the life of greatest fulfillment. When God directs us for his own purposes, we discover that his purposes include our blessing and joy.

This illustration from The Sound of Music helps us to see how obeying God can lead, not only to God’s good, but to our good as well. What it doesn’t capture is the miraculous and peculiar way God actually worked in the real life of the real Maria von Trapp.

Like the Reverend Mother who sent Maria back to the von Trapp family, God oftens “sends” us to places that don’t seem best to us. But, in fact, they are the best.

We can see this illustrated in the fictional version of the life of Maria von Trapp. But, in fact, her real life contained some striking examples of God’s unexpected guidance. Here’s an excerpt from the family history on the von Trapp website:

The movie strongly portrays Maria as the epitome of religious devotion in and out of convent life. Most people are unaware that she was raised as a socialist and atheist and became actively cynical towards all religions. Those beliefs quickly and dramatically changed by the chance meeting of a visiting Jesuit priest to Maria’s college.

Maria had entered a crowded church assuming she was about to enjoy a concert by Bach. Instead, a well known priest, Father Kronseder had just begun preaching. Caught in the middle of a standing-room-only crowd, Maria soon found herself caught up in the words of this preacher.

In Maria’s words, “Now I had heard from my uncle that all of these Bible stories were inventions and old legends, and that there wasn’t a word of truth in them. But the way this man talked just swept me off my feet. I was completely overwhelmed by it . . . .” When he finished his sermon and came down the pulpit stairs Maria grabbed his elbow and loudly asked, “Do you believe all this?”

A meeting between the priest and Maria changed her beliefs and the course of her life.

Though Maria was intensely devoted to her convent, she was taken away from the outdoor activities she once thrived on. Her doctor was concerned her health was failing due to a lack of fresh air and exercise. This was when the decision was made to send Maria to the home of retired naval captain Georg von Trapp. Her position was not governess to all the children, as the movie portrayed, but specifically to the captain’s daughter who was bedridden with rheumatic fever. The rest is truly history. Maria never returned to the convent and married the Captain on November 26, 1927. This is the story that has been made immortalized by The Sound of Music.

The von Trapp family began singing publicly, not because it was part of their escape from Austria to Switzerland, as in the movie, but as a result of what must have seemed like terrible misfortune to the von Trapps. When the family lost its wealth in the worldwide depression of the 1930s, they considered singing as a way of making money. At first the father was reticent, but according to one of his daughters, in the end he “accepted it as God’s will that they sing for others.” The family did indeed win first place at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936, as depicted in the movie. And their singing was part of what helped them leave Austria, though without hiking over the mountains to Switzerland.

In the story of the real Maria von Trapp, we see how God uses circumstances, even apparently negative ones, to guide and bless and use his people. First, God led her to faith through her attendance at an evangelistic event that she mistakenly thought was going to be a concert. Second, her poor health in the convent was what led to her being assigned to the von Trapp family. And that which ended up bringing her family much acclaim, namely their professional singing, was something they did out of necessity when they lost their fortune.

Maria, by the way, remained a faithful Christian all of her life. In the 1950s she, along with her own children, Johannes and Rosmarie, and her stepdaughter Maria, went to New Guinea to do mission work there. Although Maria (senior) contracted malaria and didn’t remain in New Guinea for a long time, her children stayed on for several years, with Maria (junior) doing mission work in New Guinea for thirty years.

So the story of the real Maria von Trapp reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s guidance often comes packaged in unexpected forms. Yet he can use even the unexpected and the apparently negative both for our good and for his purposes.

How Does God Guide Us? Some Final Thoughts

In this series I’ve tried to show some of the ways that God guides us. I’ve explained that God guides us through:

• Circumstances
• Scripture
• Community
• Reason
• Dreams and Visions
• Divine Whispering
• Spiritual Direction

I suggested that we can confirm God’s guidance in various ways, especially through taking the risk of stepping out in faith. In my last posts, I showed that God’s guidance is not only for our benefit, but also for the sake of others, and especially for the sake of God’s own kingdom and glory.

I’ll finish up this series by responding to a couple of very practical questions that often hear as a pastor:

How can I learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit?
My life is so busy, how can I find time to quiet my heart enough to hear the Spirit’s gentle whisper?

How can I learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit?

I have found that many people simply need to be aware of the different ways that the Holy Spirit can guide them. Some who have studied the Bible for years to gain theological knowledge never expected the Spirit to speak to them personally through the Scripture. Once they have this expectation, they realize that the Spirit had been whispering in their ears in the past, but they had dismissed this internal voice as nothing of significance. Now they are ready to be guided by the Spirit in a more personal way.

Let me emphasize again that spiritual guidance must be evaluated for its consistency with Scripture. Moreover, we all need to be in close fellowship with other Christians who can help us to discern God’s directions for our lives. If you want to be guided by the Spirit and not simply to claim divine status for your own inclinations, commit yourself to Bible study and to active involvement in Christian community.

Remember that spiritual guidance often comes, not primarily for our sake, but for the sake of others. As you seek God’s will, ask him to show you how to serve those around you. Make yourself available to do God’s will, to participate in his work in the world. Submission to the Lord is a crucial ingredient of your readiness to hear his voice.

Finally, the practice of spiritual disciplines helps to tune our ears to the voice of the Spirit. As you spend time reading and meditating upon the Scripture, praying, journaling, taking time to be alone with God, being silent for extended times, worshiping publicly and privately, and fasting, your heart will be prepared for hearing God’s voice. If these disciplines — or even the word “discipline” — are unfamiliar to you, let me recommend a couple of marvelous books: The Spirit of the Disciplines, by Dallas Willard (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988) and A Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, 3rd edition (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998).

Today’s inspiring article was written by Rev. Mark D. Roberts and is shared from the following website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-does-god-guide-us/

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The D’s of Depression – Delve Into the Depths of Your Soul Part 3

Know Yourself and You Will Win All Battles Sun Tzu

If you have been following my posts this week, you know that I am addressing how to overcome depression. Overcoming depression is not an easy task but, I believe, it is a possible task.

The first step is knowing yourself. That is the focus for this week. You need to know you and you need to know who you really are. You need to know all of the self-talk that goes on within your head and you need to root out and eliminate all of the lies you believe about yourself.

Have you ever made a mistake and told yourself, “You Dummy!” Yup, me too. That kind of self talk may seem pretty innocent but my experience has shown me that, all too often, there is more lurking behind those trite moments of self-talk that are not innocent at all.

Let’s look at this another way. How comfortable are you with giving yourself a pat on the back? Do you commend yourself for a good decision? Is telling yourself “Way to Go!” a frequent occurrence? I’m not talking the I’m better than anybody else, conceited type of self-talk. I’m referring to humble acknowledgement of your strengths, abilities, and capacity.

Do you participate in a lot of comparing yourself to others? Do you understand that comparing yourself to others is a lose/lose proposition? There is no other you in the entire universe and there never will be. Comparing yourself to others is like a rose comparing itself to an orchid. Both are wonderful and beautiful but a rose is never going to be an orchid and an orchid is never is going to be a rose and the world is a much better place because we have both.

Sometimes it is not fun delving into the depths of your own soul. It can be a painful place to find yourself. Other times, it can be fascinating to find things about yourself that you never had known or acknowledged before. It can be hard work but I promise that you will be the joyous benefactor of all your efforts. If you are willing, knowing yourself will be a huge blessing and is a key step in overcoming depression.

Today, I am sharing another article by Farnoosh Brook. I hope you will take the time to read it and that you will continue to do the work to know yourself better. Hugs to you!

How to Get to Know Yourself in 5 Fool-Proof Steps

Living a lie comes out sooner or later.

The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painfulthan the risk it took to blossom. ~Anais Nin

When I read this quote first, I felt something tighten in my heart.

I was still at my corporate job, living in total conflict with my core values, and still denying the reality of the situation. It took a simple phrase to snap me out of my coma and help me see how I had created my own agony: By denying who I am.

And for what? So I could go on being someone else to impress people I don’t care about for reasons that don’t matter? It isn’t worth living a lie and being untrue to who you are, no matter how crazy, how eccentric, how uncommon, how different you may be.

You are who you are. The earlier in life you accept this and get on with it, the easier and sweeter you shall live out your days.

Let’s start embracing it instead of hiding it under the covers.

As for me, when the lie became so blatantly obvious, I accepted who I am, quit my cushy job, started my online business, created my dream lifestyle and have never looked back.

A secret I didn’t even know: You won’t miss the lie you are living, because living true to yourself is the real paradise.

This kickstarted the beginning of a self-discovery journey that I share with you here: How to get to know yourself and how to have the courage to live life as exactly who you were meant to be, being true to your core values, and coming to peace with it all.

How well do you know yourself? Ready to find out?

You can be different from the rest of the world and still be fabulous — in fact, you’re fabulous because of it, not despite it.

Different means good. So if you are different, you, my dear, are good.

The idea is to understand what makes you different, and as you do that, you get to know yourself better.

It’s perfectly fine to explore what your heart wants. It’s completely alright to tune out the rest of the world so you can build a connection with your soul. It’s remarkably uncommon, but it’s fine and it’s alright, so do it. You won’t regret getting to know the person who lives inside yuo.

The most beautiful thing you will ever witness in your life is when you begin to unfold into the person you were meant to be from your very beginning.

It’s not about your favorite color or school subject. We’re talking big stuff.

Knowing yourself is beyond figuring out your favorite color or your favorite subject in school or your favorite music album. We are no longer in high school — thank heavens – where being “yourself” meant mimicking everyone else, acting stupid in the collective and defying rules, and feeling insecure all day long while doing it!

Knowing yourself is the process of understanding you – the human being – on deeper levels than the surface. It is an unpredictable road that you must bewillingto explore. It brings you face-to-face with your deep self-doubts and insecurities. It makes you take a serious look at the way you are living your life and put it to question.

The whole thing can suck for a little while but then it gets better, and like anything else, a little hard work at the start pays dividends in abundance for the rest of your life.

Knowing yourself means respecting your values in life, your beliefs, your personality, your priorities, your moods, your habits, your magnificent body, and your relationships.

Knowing yourself means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and fears, your desires and dreams. It means being aware of your eccentricities and idiosyncrasies, your likes and dislikes, and your tolerances and limitations.

Knowing yourself means knowing your purpose in life. Or coming really darn close to finding it out!

You’re not born knowing yourself. Get over it.

You do not get to know yourself simply by growing up and growing old. Knowing yourself is a conscious effort; you do it with intention and purpose.

Not knowing yourself becomes obvious sooner or later. A quiet frustration lives in your heart when you do not know yourself. You may choose to live with it and ignore it – or you may choose to start getting to know yourself.

How to Get to Know Yourself in 5 Fool-Proof Steps:

1. Get to Know Your Personality

Understanding your own personality is the first key. You have the collective opinion of others which is one aspect.

You also have your own database of information about what your personality is really like, and who you are in your private moments as well as in your public ones.

The idea is to get to know your personality inside out, to know what you are and what you are not like. Understand what makes you react a certain way in life’s myriad of situations. Ask yourself “Why did I do that?” and answer it.

Who are you behind your name? What are your characteristic traits? Who are you among friends? What about strangers? What persona do you portray to the outside world?

What are you really like on a good day as well as a bad day, in face of a challenge or a great reward? How do you react to the world around you?

2. Get to Know Your Core Values

Your core values are the morale codes and the principles you hold near and dear to your heart. When I work with my clients, one of the first things I ask prior to our coaching sessions is a list of their top eight core values.

You probably have more than eight values, but the top eight play the big roles in decision-making, influencing, persuading, conflict-resolution, communication, and living your day-to-day life.

In your work, in your home, in all aspects of your life, which values can you never compromise? Those are your core values.

Is it honesty, integrity, security or flexibility? Is it dedication to others, wisdom and learning, financial comfort or fun? Do you value loyalty above excellence, responsibility above ambition, or innovation above improvement?

3. Get to Know Your Body

Youth is such foolishness. In my 20s, I used to think I know my body. I was but a child. The more I learn about my body, the more mysterious it becomes and the more I push my body, the more it surprises and delights and amazes me. Yours can too.

How well do you know your body, your breathing, your abilities, your limits of balance and flexibility?

Have you ever said “my body can’t do this” and that “my body type won’t do that” without even trying a physical challenge? Before you close the door to wonderful possibilities, take another look. Take the time to become truly intimate with the loveliest temple on earth, your own body.

4. Get to Know your Dreams

Your dreams and hopes create the pathway into your future. They help you build the life you can be proud of living.

Your dreams matter. Your dreams are important. Your dreams are worth going after. Don’t believe anything less.

And start getting to know your dreams well. Get to know the details and the specifics.

If you want to become a musician, ask yourself: What instrument do you want to play? What level of proficiency do you want to learn? How big a part of your life would it be? And on and on until you know everything about your dream.

Make your dreams part of your daily pursuits. Take them seriously. Work at them. Glorify them instead of hiding them and being ashamed of them.

5. Get to Know your Likes and Dislikes

What do you like and just as important, what do you dislike? Simple, innocent question but knowing this about yourself gives you a lot of confidence into who you are. A lot of people go through life liking what’s popular and disliking what’s not “cool”. Don’t do that.

Take the time to define your likes and dislikes, and don’t put it up for a vote among family and friends. You decide.

Defining your own likes and especially dislikes takes guts. It maybe impolite to dislike attending yet another baby shower or spending 3 hours with extended relatives, but look at the alternative. If you keep doing frustrates you and neglect what brings you joy, you give up part of who you are. It’s the least likely path to any happiness whatsoever.

Stay true to your likes and dislikes. Nobody has to like them but you!

Getting to know yourself allows you to tap into the well of happiness beyond your imagination. Bliss even on cloudy days.

Today’s inspiring article was written by Farnoosh Brook and is shared from the following website: http://www.prolificliving.com/the-greatest-discovery-of-all-getting-to-know-yourself/

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The D’s of Depression – Delve Into the Depths of Your Soul Part 2

Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of all Wisdom Aristotle

As I mentioned yesterday, this week we are going to address the incredibly important first step in overcoming depression: Knowing Yourself.  You may think you know yourself. After all, you spend every second of every day with yourself!

However, I believe that most people in general and virtually all individuals who are going through depression don’t know themselves well at all.

If I could, I would take each precious soul that is suffering with depression and spend some quality time with them and help them understand how amazing and wonderful this world is, how perfect and incredible the love that God has for them is, and the gift that they are to this world that we share.

In this first step to overcoming depression, it is vital that we do some serious self-evaluation and self-knowledge work. I found a wonderful to share with you today!

Whether you are going through depression or not, I hope you will take some time and get to know yourself better! Knowing who we are…knowing who we truly are is the foundation step to both endeavors: creating a depression-free life and creating a meaningful life.

I hope you will give yourself the gift of you by getting to know yourself better! You are worth the time and effort!

Get To Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Discover the Real You

At the core of our desires is living a life of purpose and meaning.

At the core of a life of purpose and meaning is being of service to others.

At the core of being of service to others is finding peace and happiness.

At the core of finding peace and happiness, we discover who we are.

And to do that, we must get over a little irony, that most of us hardly know – much less, know well – the single person we have spent every second of our existence with, our own selves.

Think you’re the exception? Let me ask you then: how well do you know yourself?

We are not talking about taking a personality test or learning about your family history. Neither are we talking about your favorite colors, your best childhood friend or your high school prom experience (thank goodness about the last one ;)).

We are talking about something much greater and of higher consequence. We are talking about who you are at your core, what most matters to you, what makes you come alive, what feeds your soul and what drains your spirit, and how to know the difference so you choose well as you move forward in life.

If you don’t know yourself all that well, you may still live a life in alignment with who you are but only by accident or some sheer stroke of luck.

And that, my darling, is too big a risk to take, so shall we eliminate the risk altogether?

Make it a certainty that you live in alignment with who you are not by accident or luck, but rather on purpose, by intention, by design.

How? By getting to know yourself really really well. One way to do that is to learn your values, passions and goals. Another is to ask the right questions.

How to Get to Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Self-Discovery

Here are just 29 questions that open the door to having a real conversation with yourself. I want to ask you to answer these questions honestly for yourself.

When you are ready to do this, copy these questions into a text document, quiet all outside distractions, take a few deep relaxing breaths, make a great cuppa tea, clear your mind of noise and clutter and dive in.

Know that there are no right or wrong answers. There is only you uncovering the process of building a closer relationship with the person within.

  1. What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
  2. What is something you always love doing, even when you are tired or rushed? Why?
  3. If a relationship or job makes you unhappy, do you choose to stay or leave?
  4. What do you fear about leaving a bad job or a bad relationship?
  5. What do you believe is possible for you?
  6. What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
  7. What is the thing that you are second most proud of?
  8. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
  9. How does your being here in the universe change humanity for the better?
  10. If you could have one single wish granted, what would it be?
  11. How comfortable are you with your own mortality?
  12. What is your highest core value?
  13. To your best knowledge, how do other people perceive you?
  14. How would you like others to perceive you?
  15. How confident are you in your abilities to make decisions for yourself?
  16. What is your biggest self-limiting belief?
  17. Who is the most important person in your life?
  18. Who is your greatest role model?
  19. Who is a person that you don’t like yet you spend time with?
  20. What is something that is true for you no matter what?
  21. What is your moral compass in making difficult decisions?
  22. What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?
  23. What role does gratitude play in your life?
  24. How do you feel about your parents?
  25. How is your relationship with money?
  26. How do you feel about growing old someday?
  27. What role has formal education played in your life and how do you feel about it?
  28. Do you believe your destiny is pre-determined or in your hands to shape however you wish?
  29. What do you believe is the meaning of your life?

What If You Don’t Like the Questions Above?

I know. These questions are not meant to be easy or comfortable, but they are important to ask and to know. As you ask yourself questions, the process of self-inquiry begins, and at first, it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar – especially if you have never done it – yet in time, it becomes easier. Even fun.

Because here’s what you may not know. Or be afraid to believe.

You are a unique child of this world. You are brilliant, smart and wise. You are deep and fascinating. You are gifted and talented. You are beyond capable to do what you dream. You are loved, loving and lovable.

You are not too old or too fat or too poor. You are not too slow or too boring. You are simply none of the terrible things you tell yourself. You’re quite the opposite.

You are more than enough.

So while it’s up to you to decide if this self-discovery process is worthwhile, I would say trust me on this. Getting to know yourself IS worthwhile. Just do it!

Written by Farnoosh Brock and shared from the following website: http://www.prolificliving.com/get-to-know-yourself/

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