Have you noticed how often we use up the present moments of our lives, the very precious currency of life, consumed with a longing to be someplace else, doing something else? Or we waste present moments feeling guilty about the past or apprehensive about the future. Slipping away from the present happens because we are living our lives with an attitude of depreciation rather than appreciation. We can ease this dilemma by learning to pay attention to what’s going on in the inner world of our thoughts.
A great hallmark of mental wellness is the ability to be in the present moment, fully and with no thoughts of being elsewhere. Henry David Thoreau said: “He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past.” I would add, “In anticipating the future as well.” There definitely is a past, but not now. And there definitely is a future, but not now.
Our present moment is a mystery that we are part of. Here and now is where all the wonder of life lies hidden. And make no mistake about it, Continue Reading
I have observed that society in general always seems to honor its living conformists and its dead troublemakers. All those who have ever made a difference in any profession have listened to the inner music they heard and proceeded independent of the opinions of others. That was certainly true of one of my favorite nonconformists, Henry David Thoreau, who walked to the beat of a different drum and followed the beliefs of his conscience. He knew that the beat you hear within yourself is your connection to your soul’s purpose.
My own eight children all march to the beat of their inner music, and in some cases it is definitely far away from what I hear. I’ve had to honor their instincts and their choices, and merely guided them out of harm’s way until they could be their own guides. I have always marched to my own beat, and most frequently it was inconsistent not only with my own immediate family, but with my culture as well. I could never find it in my heart to preach to my listeners to do it my way, when I’ve always pretty much ignored what was being preached to me.
An important teacher of mine, Abraham Maslow, always counseled that it was necessary for the self-actualized individual to be “independent of the good opinion of others.” Walk with Thoreau in your own mind. Continue Reading
I consider Ralph Waldo Emerson one of my greatest teachers even though he passed on well over a century ago. Emerson was the founder of the Transcendental movement in America; his philosophy emphasized the all-pervading spirit of the universe, wherein God existed everywhere. To understand the greatness of Emerson, it is important to remember that during his period of history, spiritual guidance was the exclusive domain of the established religions. Emerson was challenging the dogma and rhetoric of traditional religion. In perhaps his best-known and most frequently quoted essay, “Self-Reliance,” this provocative American author examined the basic tenets of what it means to be your own person. I can still remember the impact that the essays “Self-Reliance” and “On the Necessity of Civil Disobedience”—by Emerson’s contemporary Henry David Thoreau—had on me when I was a seventeen-year-old high school student.
People who truly understand what is meant by self-reliance know they must live their lives by ethics rather than rules. The rules are not reasons to live a certain way. It is the integrity of your own mind that you must first consult if you are ever to experience this quality of self-reliance. This lesson applies to all areas of your life, from making decisions for yourself about how you spend your free time, to how you will dress, to what you will eat, to how you will raise your children. Don’t let the voices within you grow faint and inaudible in favor of that societal conspiracy. Be yourself and run your life by what you know to be right and in harmony with your spiritual essence. That is, by the integrity of your own mind. Continue Reading