[Rev Donna and Jarrett come onto the stage with hobby horses -- wearing cowboy hats. They mount their "horses" and pretend to ride for a moment when one says to the other - with a slow Texas drawl . . . ]
Jarrett: Do you know what the secret of life is?
Rev Donna: No. What?
Jarrett: This [He holds up his index finger.]
Rev Donna: Your finger?
Jarrett: Na! One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean nothin'.
Rev Donna: That's great, but what's the "one thing"?
Jarrett: That's what you've got to figure out.
Anyone know where that little scene came from? Ah, yes! The 1991 movie "City Slickers" and that was a conversation between the gritty cowboy Curly played by Jack Palance and the city slicker Mitch played by Billy Crystal. There was some great spiritual wisdom in that truly hilarious movie.
Today we are on our last book of our summer reading list, the 2013 New York Times best seller The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
And here's a lovely little "God thing" that happened with this. ("God Things happen all the time when we immerse ourselves in these teachings, by the way!). When I picked Inside Out Healing for our book last week and then this book The One Thing for today, I had heard a lot of good things about both of them, but I hadn't read either of them, so I went on faith that they would be valuable for us.
Little did I know when I set up our reading schedule how perfectly this book would fit following Inside Out Healing, because, while put in more of a business context of productivity and goal achievement, the basic message of today's book is extremely consistent with the basic message of Inside Out Healing, which is what?
Return to present moment awareness, live in the now! Right?
The idea of The ONE Thing is that if you want less stress and strain and more joy, balance and abundance in your life, you can achieve that by mastering the ONE thing.
You've probably heard the term "Go big or go home". Well mastering the ONE Thing suggests the opposite in a specific context -- "Go small or go home." And by going small in this context, I mean, to achieve big things you need to narrow your focus in this moment to ONE thing. Whatever the ONE thing is that is in front of you.
Isn't that another way of looking at being in the present moment?
To bring this idea truly within the context of our spiritual framework, I love these two statements - one from Fillmore; one from Holmes.
Charles Fillmore writes in Talks on Truth: "God is, and we are. Let us live in God's world - not a world to be tomorrow, next month, next year, or next century, but here and now. God's beautiful universe is all about us, only awaiting our acknowledgement of its presence. Let us know God and live - live with love and joy, health and peace, here [and now]."a
In 365 Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes says: "The only time to make use of the Creative Principle is now. The real secret to its practical application lies not in how much we know, but in the use of what we do know. The results, large or small, much or little, depend entirely on the degree of conscientious endeavor, enthusiasm and joy, conviction and faith that we can bring to bear on any particular situation [now]."b
In order to discern the ONE Thing for us, we must ask a question; not just any question, but a very specific question. In fact, we are going to call it the "right question." We have talked before about how the quality of our lives is often reflected in the quality of the questions we ask.
There's a story of Thomas Edison who was once asked if he had only one hour to solve a problem, how would he spend his time? His answer was that he would spend the first 55 minutes formulating the right question, because with the right question the solution was immediate.
You are familiar with the Chinese Proverb: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Yes? But have you ever stopped to think that if the single step is not the "right" step then you could end as far as two thousand miles from where you want to be!
Asking the right question helps keep your first step from being a misstep.
So what is this right question, you may be asking!! It's a Focusing Question. Here is it: "What's the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"c
Let me say it again: "What's the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?" Pretty simple, eh? So simple that it's power can easily be overlooked if we don't closely examine it. So let's unpack it a little bit and then we'll apply it to some specific areas of our lives.
Part One: "What's the ONE thing . . ."
This portion of the question causes you to focus, narrow your focus to right now and what can be done right now.
"What's the ONE Thing" tells you the answer will be one thing vs. many others. It forces you toward something specific. It tells you right up front that although you may consider many options, you need to take this seriously because you don't get two three, four or more. You're allowed to pick one thing and only one thing.
In the Science Of Mind, Holmes writes: ". . . in Mental Science concentration means focusing the mental attention on some definite and desirable thoughts images, ideas or things. . . . Concentration of thought is not an effort to compel, but the desire to permit, the stream of Creative Energy to take definite form."d
Part Two - ". . . I can do . . ."
Within that phrase, "I can do," is an embedded command directing you to take the action that you will take.
You might want to be like me and tweak this a bit and say "I should do," "I could do" or "I would do" but those choices all miss the point.
There are many things you should, could or would do, but never do. Action you "can do" beats intention every time!
I love these words of Holmes, from the Science Of Mind: "Our minds should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance. This would be a well-balanced existence."e
Part Three: ". . . such that by doing it . . ."
This part of the question puts your consciousness on notice that there is a criterion your answer must meet. It's the bridge between just doing something/anything and doing something for a specific purpose. And the place of Infinite Wisdom in you will respond to this!
Part Four: ". . . everything else will be easier or unnecessary"?
The Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer Archimedes once said: "Give me a lever long enough and I could move the world."f . . . and that's exactly what this last part tells you to find.
"Everything else will be easier or unnecessary" is the ultimate leverage test. It says that when you do this ONE Thing, everything else you could do to accomplish your goal will now be either doable with less effort or no longer even necessary.
This deceptively simple, but exceedingly powerful, Focusing Question can direct you to your ONE Thing in different areas of your life. Simply reframe it a bit by inserting your area of focus.
Here are some examples of Focusing Questions within the context of different areas:
For Your Spiritual Life:
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to deepen my connection with Source such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? OR
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to build my faith such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
For Your Physical Health . . .
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to achieve my fitness goals such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? OR
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to relieve my stress such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
For your Key Relationships:
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to improve my relationship with my spouse/partner such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to nurture my children such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
For your Job:
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to further my career such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to help my team succeed such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
For your Finances:
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to eliminate my credit card debt such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
* What's the ONE Thing I can do to increase my net worth such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
Are you getting the picture?
I said last week that the Mandala of Being was a powerful spiritual tool that would get more powerful for us when we got into the habit of using it. The same is true with the Focusing Question. At first it may take some discipline to even remember to ask it, but if you have the discipline to ask it for 66 days, it will become a habit.
What? 66 days? Yes, that's what I said.
We have often heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. But, I've tested that out and it didn't exactly ring true for me.
I am excited to learn of some new research from the University College of London. They asked the question, "How long does it take to establish a new habit?" and then set up a study around diet and exercise to see what the answer is.
They were looking for the moment when a new behavior became automatic or ingrained. The results of their study suggest that it takes an average of 66 days to acquire a new habit. It takes time to develop the right habit, so don't give up too soon.
So let's spend the next few minutes bringing our entire month to a close and wrapping up a few loose ends.
The first Sunday, we looked at Thrive, a New York Times best seller written by media mogul Arianna Huffington, and we looked at Four Qualities of a [Redefined] Successful Life, which are:
Well-Being, particularly our spiritual well being
Wisdom Wonder Giving
And, I threw down a challenge that Sunday which was you would be in the running for a gift today if you made your spiritual well being a priority by attending service every week this month and noticing that your life just works better when you get regular doses of what we offer here. Did anyone intentionally notice that this month?
The second Sunday we looked at Charles' Fillmore's book, Prosperity and we explored eight prosperity gems, including "Put God first in finances" and 3 of you made the commitment to do that in our 90-day Tithing Challenge. This is the last Sunday to sign up if you want to play! We are going to have some real fun!
And then, last Sunday we added a new spiritual tool, the Mandala of Being, that came out of Richard Moss's book Inside Out Healing, which reminds us to stay in the present moment because that's where the Power of God - the Power of Love -- resides.
And let us be reminded again of the Focusing Question that came from our final summer read: "What's the ONE thing . . . I can do . . . . such that by doing it . . . . everything else will be easier or unnecessary?"
Spirit stands at the ready to support us in everything we do.
In the Book of Revelation it says: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."g
We just need to open ourselves to receive. Asking the Focusing Question and doing the ONE thing opens us to receive!
aCharles Fillmore, Talks on Truth, p. 100
bErnest Holmes 365 Science of Mind, p. 115
cThe ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
dErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, pg. 194
eErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, p. 477