In the early 1950s, we lived in a small duplex at 20217 Moross Road on the east side of Detroit—me, Mom, my two older brothers, and our new stepfather, Bill. My beloved mother had finally succeeded in getting her family back together under one roof. And on that roof was a glorious TV antenna that did its best to bring in reception depending on how the winds blew. We were the fortunate owners of a small black-and-white Admiral television set, the first in our neighborhood. Of course, my twelve-year-old self was entranced with this amazing new machine.
Even in those early days, TV programmers were already vying for audiences, and on Tuesday nights at 8:00, most of the country tuned in to watch comedian Milton Berle. Not our family, however. My stepfather insisted that we watch Life Is Worth Living with Bishop Fulton Sheen, formerly the host of The Catholic Hour on night-time radio. My friends might all be sharing jokes from “Uncle Miltie” the next day, but I became a devoted fan of Bishop Sheen. I watched Life Is Worth Living intently and even took notes! Continue Reading
This has been called the age of information. There’s no shortage of information; in fact, there may be way too much. When a nominee was named for the Supreme Court, the Judicial Committee was given a list of every single movie that this person had rented for the past 10 years! If we look at this word information, in the very center of it there’s the word form. Form describes the world of the physical, the world of boundaries, the world of beginnings and ends. When we are in the world of form, what we get is information. But let’s shift our attention to another world which is the source of everything physical.
St. Paul said, “That which is seen hath not come from that which doth appear”—the source of everything in the world of form is not from the world of form. It’s from the world of Spirit—the world of the invisible which has no boundaries, no beginnings and no ends. When you are in the world of Spirit, what you get is “inspiration.” What we have in our world today is a spiritual deficit. We don’t have enough emphasis on the importance of being inspired and living in-Spirit.
One of the most important lessons I ever learned comes from the great spiritual teacher Patanjali: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Imagine that just by moving into the world of inspiration you can activate “dormant forces,”—forces that you thought were dead, that you thought were not available to you—and you can make them work for you when you are inspired. You don’t get tired, you don’t get hungry, you don’t worry about money, and you don’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow. You’re moving into the world of God. Being inspired is probably the most important thing you can do. Look at all the things around you and say, “Where did all of this come from?” It all came from the world of Spirit, the world of inspiration. It’s the spirit that gives life.
Recently, a Canadian friend told me about taking his kids to a concert put on by a big name, hugely successful rock band. My friend was delighted with the heartfelt gratitude the musicians expressed to their fans, thanking them for making possible a life of creative joy and opportunity. The fans were wildly grateful, too, for the enjoyment the band provided.
Most of the people I’ve met or observed who are at the top levels in their chosen fields have these attitudes of gratitude and “radical humility.” After all, when so many high achievers reach for their statuette or championship trophy, they say, “First I’d like to thank God.” It’s almost as if they can’t help themselves—they’re so grateful for their accolade, but even more than that, they know that there’s a Force in the Universe way bigger than they are that allows them to act, sing, write, compete, or design. And if we adopt this kind of an attitude, we’ll inspire others to do the same. If we practice gratitude as opposed to maintaining an attitude of entitlement, we’ll automatically extend inspiration wherever we go. Being grateful helps remove the influence of our egos, which is certain that we’re better than everyone else. An attitude of gratitude allows us to adopt the radical humility that’s very persuasive in helping others connect with the Spirit that unites us all.
Without exception, I begin every day of my life with an expression of gratitude. As I look in the mirror to begin my daily ritual of shaving, I say, “Thank you, God, for this life, for my body, for my family and loved ones, for this day, and for the opportunity to be of service. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Gratitude and humility send signals to all who meet us that we’re all connected to something larger than life itself.
My latest book Excuses Begone was written day by day—every day from February 1st to October 2008. My inspiration came from nature in the most beautiful way. Before beginning each new chapter in the book, I would drive 35 miles east of where I live on Maui and then hike over an incredible number of rocks and through trees for about two hours. There’s a place where a 50-foot waterfall drops into a pool, surrounded by guava trees covered with guava fruit.
Here I would stay right under the waterfall and just let the water cascade down on my head. In the hours I spent there, everything I needed for my next chapter would appear. I didn’t have an outline or any organization—just a beautiful, blissful place in the rain forest. It was almost as if God wrapped his arms around me and said, “This is what you’ll need for the next chapter. Just be at peace.”
After a couple of hours of being out there in nature and finding my own nature, I would come back and sit down to write and everything just flowed so easily and so beautifully.
That’s how it works when you follow your bliss. Everyone says, “That’s crazy—you have to drive 35 miles and hike two hours and it’s so isolated out there.” I wouldn’t even begin to know how to start a new chapter without making conscious contact with God.
That’s my way—it’s not the way—it’s just my way.