WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE BIG?
Let's start with a prayer: Help me, Father, Mother, God, to live in the present. Allow me to be present to you, as you are always present to me, each moment of each day. Allow me to be present to the gift of each moment, no matter how ordinary, so that I can be present to the joy and wonder of your loving presence each moment of each day. AMEN.
Summer is the ideal time to pull out our favorite reading as well as to explore books that have been on the "must read" list but which we haven't yet opened. How many of you have a "must read" list or pile of books?
I always have quite a stack of such books, and I decided to take two of them and make them the focus of this month. They are Living Big by Pam Grout and The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein.
Today and next week, we will look at Living Big.a The second two weeks of the month, we'll explore The Universe Has Your Back.
So, our question of the morning is: What does it mean to live big? This, of course, is a topic we explore a lot, using different words, perhaps, but it's a frequent topic, because it is what we came here to do. We came here to live big, meaning to express the Divine in the highest ways we possibly can.
But most people don't do that; rather, as Thoreau wrote in Walden: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."b
Grout's book begins with a great quote from Bob Savino which says: "Every day, you are signaled and summoned to embark on a journey beyond the boundaries of all you have ever known."c
Living Big then is going beyond the boundaries of what we currently know. Or, to use a term we use here often: To stand at the green growing edge of our becoming and walk across that edge!
But, again, most people don't do that. According to poet Ranier Maria Rilke:
"Most people come to know only one corner of their room, one narrow strip on which they keep walking back and forth."d
Living Big is about discovering the rest of the room!
We have probably all heard the statistic that the average person has 60,000 thoughts a day.
But you might not know this: Approximately 98% of those 60,000 thoughts (or 58,800) are the same ones we had yesterday!
Now because we adhere to a belief system called "New Thought," perhaps we only recycle say 95% percent of our thoughts, but that is still 57,000 old thoughts a day.
Just think what we could do with our lives if we used even half of our daily amount of thoughts thinking up new ideas, solutions to challenges, ways in which we create greater connections with the God of our being, with one another, how to be of greater service to the world, how to share our gifts to answer life's challenges?
Grout writes: "We live at half-throttle. We suit up for hopscotch when we could be performing miracles. We're completely oblivious to our own majesty, to the fact that the very heartbeat of the divine thrums through our veins. . . . Living Big is about tapping into the unused resources of our minds, loving with every ounce of our souls and stepping up to claim our wildest dreams."e
She goes on to write: "It is my highest hope that this book will make some kind of impact on the world's consciousness. If we stay in the restrictive ruts we're in now, we will never solve the world's problems. And there are a lot of problems that need solving; a lot of big things that need doing. We have kids taking guns to school. We have mass destruction of our rain forests. We have neighbors so lonely that Jay Leno is their only friend. So, I have to ask, 'What are we going to do about it?' No longer can we sit back, finger our remotes, and say, 'Tut, tut what a shame.' We must act. We must grow out of our wimpy, apathetic, small lives and take action. . . . As long as there is prejudice, environmental destruction, people calling each other names, there is something big to do. We don't have the right or the luxury to be small. The answer to your problems and the world's problems are one and the same. And that answer is you. Us. Now."f
So, for the next two weeks, we are going to look at the attitudes it takes to Live Big! Today we are going to:
Think big - which is the Attitude of Boldness;
Imagine big - The Attitude of Creativity; and
Play big - the Attitude of Happiness!
Then, next week, we will bless big, give big and love big!
1. THINK BIG - THE ATTITUDE OF BOLDNESS
1. Think Big - the Attitude of Boldness
In one of the first scenes of a stage adaptation of Robert Fulghum's All I Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten it went like this.
The kindergarten teacher asks her fresh young students how many of them are dancers. "I am. I am," they all shouted exuberantly.
"How many of you are singers?" she continued. Again, all of them waved their hands wildly.
"Painters?" Unanimous hand waving.
"Writers?" More of the same.
In fourth grade, another teacher asked the same questions of the same students. Now, only a third of them are dancers, singer, painters and writers.
By high school, the number of students willing to claim their artistic talent is down to a paltry few. Where did all their boldness and passion go?g
Somewhere along the line, for many of us, that boldness and passion went away. Perhaps we feel it was taken away, perhaps it was subtle erosion. But it's gone. But what if today were the day for you to reignite that spark of boldness and passion in you for who you are!?
What if today, you challenged the status quo of your life? Being bold is simply a matter of claiming or reclaiming your inheritance. It is a simple acknowledgement of who you are.
Grout writes: "When we refuse to be bold, when we forget to say 'I count,' we might as well hand in our keys. Without boldness, life is little but rote recitation."h
Here's an example of boldness: When Walt Disney was in grade school, a well-meaning teacher, peering over at the flowers he was scribbling in the margins of his paper, tapped him on the shoulder and said "Walt, honey, those flowers are nice, but flowers don't have faces on them."
Walt turned around, looked her straight in the eye and pronounced boldly, "Mine do."i
So, today is the day to think big - be bold. Today is a day to have a new thought about who you are! Not one of the 57,000 recycled thoughts, but a new one! And in a little bit, I am going to ask you to do just that.
2. IMAGINE BIG - THE ATTITUDE OF CREATIVITY
2. Imagine Big - The Attitude of Creativity
Now that you have had a Big Thought about yourself, it is time to Imagine Big - or to have the Attitude of Creativity.
Grout writes: "Usually, when we aspire to 'be spiritual,' we think of things like being kinder, being more understanding, saying more prayers. But in order to fulfill our destiny as spiritual beings, we must also become more creative, more open to the magic, the deep vistas that gush through our souls."j
We can also squash our creativity just like our boldness. A friend of mine told me:
I don't know at what age I first picked up a crayon and started to draw, but whenever it was, I did it and really loved it.
Then my little sister, who was 3 years younger than me, grew old enough to want to do what her big sister was doing, so she plopped her chubby little self down beside me, put a crayon in her fat little hand and began to draw.
That was the beginning of the end for me! Because the fact was, my baby sister could draw circles around me.
While I was drawing little stick figures with hair and eyelashes and perhaps a pair of pants or a skirt, she was drawing proportionally accurate, intricate tea parties. Even at that young age, I could see the difference between my stick figures and her tea parties.
And from the observation of that fact, I drew a conclusion. Mind you, no one told me this - I told it to myself! So the squashing of our creativity does not necessarily come because other people told us. Sometimes we do it ourselves on our interpretation of events!
So here's what happened. I accurately concluded that my sister could draw better than I could. That was an observable FACT, no getting around that.
But here comes the misinterpretation of the fact: I concluded that my sister was an artist; and I was not. I concluded that my sister was creative; and I was not. End of story. Belief locked in. It became who I was - or, more accurately, who I was not.
My sister grew up to become a very good commercial artist, and I grew up thinking - no, not just thinking - I grew up knowing, and living from the knowing, that I was NOT creative in any way shape or form. I would often say that my sister got all the creative genes in our family.
But, you know what - that "knowing" was absolutely, totally and completely incorrect! I believed my own misinformation!
And if you think - if you know like she did - that you are not creative because you have compared yourself with someone who has a specific, creative gift, then you have believed some misinformation as well!
The Spiritual Truth I want you to walk away with today is this: You are NATURALLY creative in your own right and in a variety of ways - not just one.
We are all gifted artists. Each and every one of us. I have heard it said that the artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.
I want you to know this concept is as much for those of you who consider yourselves creative as for those who don't. Often, I've seen those who are creative in one area - even very creative - lack a belief in their ability to be creative in other areas of their lives. Or I've seen them completely block the creativity because they think they aren't creative or GOOD enough!
Every day you can bring into your experience imagination, originality, and potential. I invite you to realize and accept that you are meant to live creatively.
And, in a little bit, I am going to ask you to have a new thought about that.
3. PLAY BIG - THE ATTITUDE OF HAPPINESS
3. Play Big - the Attitude of Happiness
In the Bhagavad Gita, we are told that the full nature of God is joy and that we are the enjoyers.k
But it's not always that easy.
The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.
Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.
As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, the aide provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.
"Oh, I just love it," she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
"Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room .... just wait," the aide said.
"That doesn't have anything to do with it," she replied. "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged...it's how I arrange my mind. And I've already decided to love it ..."
"I make decisions like that every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away . . . just for this time in my life."
One of the most radical things we can do is to make a decision to be happy. If we want to live big we must make the choice to live in happiness!
Grout writes: ". . . you're the only one who can decide if your glass is half-empty or half full. Enthusiastic, childlike joy is not something you need to grow out of. One of the greatest ways to serve your fellow man is to figure out a way to enjoy yourself and to let people know that enjoying yourself is a good thing. Vow today to approach your life with a sense of aliveness. Intentionally decide that you're only going to look for the good and concentrate on the beautiful. When you decide to practice the attitude of happiness, boredom turns into exploration. Canceled flights turn into a party. Waiting in line becomes a great opportunity to meet new people. Vacuuming the floor is a ballet performed to Van Morrison. And, of course, a rainy day calls for an indoor picnic with five kinds of cheese. Make this revolutionary attitude switch now. Your joie de vivre will be contagious. Maybe you'll even make the 6 o'clock news."l
So, today we have talked about:
1. Thinking big - boldness
2. Imagining big - creativity
3. Playing big - happiness
I said earlier that today is the day to have a big, bold, new thought about who you are! Not one of the 57,000 recycled thoughts, but a new one!
I meant right now. What is a big bold new thought you could have about yourself right now? Go ahead and have it!
And now I ask you -- What is something that is wanting to be created from you? What has been knocking at your door? What is a new thought you could have about it today? Right now?
And finally, what is a new thought you could have about your ability to Play Big - or have an attitude of happiness? Not tomorrow, but right now?
And remember: God is more completely expressed through the one who lives big!
Let's anchor all of this in prayer. Father mother God help me to live out this new bold thought about myself. Help me now to create what has been waiting to be created through me. Help me also to live through an attitude of happiness at all times of my life. Help me as I learn to live big and express more of the Christ that is within me. Amen.
aLiving Big Pam Grout
bHenry David Thoreau Walden
cBob Savino is Chief Product and Technology Officer at BankMobile
dRené Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 - 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist.
eLiving Big Pam Grout p. 2
fLiving Big Pam Grout p. 4
gRobert Fulghum's All I Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten
hLiving Big Pam Grout p. 30
jLiving Big Pam Grout p. 115
kBhagavad Gita 'The Song by God'; 700-verse Hindu scripture. It is considered to be one of the holy scriptures for Hinduism
lLiving Big Pam Grout p. 153