MORE BIG LIVING
Our focus for the month of July is on our summer reading list, since summer is the ideal time to pull out a book that has been on the "must read" list but which we haven't yet opened. I know from last week that most of you have a "must read" list or a stack of books at your bedside or queued up on your Kindle.
Who's read a really great book this summer - spiritual, novel, biography, it doesn't matter, but one that you would recommend?
I always have quite a stack of such books, and I decided to let two of them move up to the top of the pile and focus on them this month. The first is Living Big by Pam Grout (author of E Squared and E Cubed). We looked at that book last week and will do it again today.
As we continue exploring Pam Grout's book Living Big, we realize that as we live big, we expand more fully into who we came here to be and live a life in which God is more fully expressed.
So Living Big is Living God! Say with me: "As I live big, I live God!"
And our focus this week, as it was last week, is to have some new thoughts about ways to live big. Do you remember how many thoughts per day the average person has? Yep, 60,000. And who remembers, for the average person, the approximate percentage of those thoughts that are simply recycled thoughts from yesterday and the day before and the day before and the day before? Approximately 98% of them (or 58,800 thoughts).
We speculated that since we are in a movement called "New Thought," perhaps we only recycle say 95% percent of our thoughts, but that is still 57,000 old thoughts a day.
Last week we had some new thoughts about:
Thinking Big - meaning having bold thoughts about ourselves,
Imagining Big - meaning recognizing and expanding our innate creativity; and
Playing Big - meaning making the choice to experience happiness.
Today we will have some new thoughts about:
Blessing Big - meaning having an attitude of kindness;
Giving Big - meaning the attitude of service;
and the most important of all . . .
Loving Big - meaning the attitude of spirituality . . .
. . . all of which I believe are intertwined and interrelated. I mean:
Kindness is service and love in action;
Service is based on love and kindness and
What is Love if not kindness and service!?
So they are interrelated. I want to speak about each one for a few moments and then offer you an example of the impact of them all, how you can have that impact and then give you a chance to have some new thoughts about it all!
1. BLESSING BIG - HAVING AN ATTITUDE OF KINDNESS
1. Blessing Big - Having an Attitude of Kindness
Grout writes: "There are some who might argue that in our world of global pollution, racial cleansing, and famine, kindness is a 'soft issue,' a luxury we can afford to discuss after the problems have been addressed. But until we practice kindness, all our grand schemes and political posturing will be in vain. . . . By practicing kindness, by sticking out a hand, or by offering a thumb's-up to our brothers and sisters, we can alter the world. By smiling at strangers, by going out of our way to applaud each other, we can bind the world back together."a
Who remembers the book, or the movie based on the book Pay It Forward? The movie came out in 2000. Remember the premise? A little boy takes on a challenge given by his teacher to come up with an idea that could change the world.
His idea was to do kindnesses for 3 people who would then pay it forward by doing kindnesses for 3 people, who would then pay it forward to 3 people, etc., etc.
There was a new minister (only 3 years into the gig) that was so enthralled with the book and then the movie that she scheduled a movie night as soon as the movie came out for rental.
She wanted everyone who wanted to see it to come, so she advertised it far and wide and had a lovely turn out of people - from kids of all ages to older people.
But in her enthusiasm for the concept, she forgot two very important things between originally seeing the movie in the theater and showing it 4 or 5 months later when it came out on video.
First, the mother, played by Helen Hunt, had an outrageously foul mouth. Every other word out of it was profanity and with every word, she cringed and sank a little lower into her chair! And, second, she forgot how incredibly sad the movie is at the end!!
Despite the profanity and the profound sadness, the idea of paying it forward was and still is pretty darn amazing, and she hoped the parents forgave her for inviting their children to the movie!
So, choose to live these words of the Dalai Lama: "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."b It is through kindness that we bless big; and it is through blessing big that we live big.
2. GIVING BIG - HAVING AN ATTITUDE OF SERVICE
2. Giving Big - Having an Attitude of Service
Let's begin our conversation about our next big idea: Giving Big, meaning having an attitude of service, with another Dalai Lama quote. He said: "We are visitors on this planet . . . During this period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives."c
The Bhagavad Gita, ancient text of the Hindu religion, talks about three different kinds of life:
The first is a life of inertia and dullness with no goals and no achievements. That doesn't sound like living big, does it?
The second is a life full of action, busyness and desire. This is certainly an improvement on the first, but by itself it becomes empty and dissatisfied.
The third life, according to the Gita, is a life of goodness which is not just about ourselves but about others as well. About this life, the Gita says:
"Through selfless service, you will always be fruitful and find the fulfillment of your desires; this is the promise of the Creator."d
Here's a profound question you could ask yourself: How may I serve others so that they may have what I desire?
Seeking to serve others is indeed a key ingredient in living big! The irony, of course, is that the more we seek our own happiness, the less of it we have, while the more we focus on others' happiness, the more joy we receive.
Eric Butterworth in Spiritual Economics wrote: "Life's inmost secret is the divine pattern in you, which you can only really know when you are giving yourself in service."e
And this is another dimension of living big! And the final one that we will explore is . . .
3. LOVING BIG - HAVING AN ATTITUDE OF SPIRITUALITY
3. Loving Big - Having an Attitude of Spirituality
Grout suggests that we spend time in therapy: ". . . excavating [our] darkness, when right under the next rock is a world of wonder and brilliance. Yes, I'm talking about our spiritual side, that transcendent force at the center of our very being. This light that is under the next rock is the most potent force in the universe. It's Spiderman, Superman and Jesse Ventura all rolled into one. Love is the cosmic electricity, the condition that allows us to dream of bigger playing fields. The voice that constantly whispers, 'You could be more.' Most of us tend to ignore that voice. We listen instead to the voice that says, 'This is all there is.' We get so preoccupied with things that don't matter that we lose sight of things that do."f
Years ago, a U.S. psychologist followed two groups of twelve orphans. The first group stayed in an orphanage and got very little personal love. The second group was taken daily to a nearby institution where they were cared for and loved on by an adolescent, mentally challenged girl.
After twenty years of studying these two groups, the psychologist made some remarkable observations. First, many of the children in the first group had died. And of those still alive, every one of them was institutionalized.
Yet, the children from the other group, the ones who received daily helpings of love, were all, every one of them, not only alive, but self-supporting, had graduated high school and many were happily married.
Grout writes: "Love, folks, is the big cheese. It's who we are. It's why we're here."g
Let pull these three together in a story entitled Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch.
The story is about a lonely little man named Mr. Hatch, who got up every morning at 6:30 to walk eight blocks to the shoelace factory where he worked. At lunchtime, he would sit alone in a corner, drinking coffee and munching on a cheese and mustard sandwich.
After work, he would stop to get a paper at the newspaper stand and a fresh turkey wing at the butcher.
After supper, he read his paper and went to bed early so he could get up at 6:30 the next day and start all over again. It was a very lonely life indeed.
One Saturday morning his doorbell rang. It was the postman who delivered to him a package. In the package was a box of chocolates with a little white card, which simply read, "Somebody loves you."
Mr. Hatch was shocked. As he dusted his home that day, he kept going back to look at the package - was it still there? "Did someone really send ME chocolates? Does somebody really love me?" he thought. "Who could it be?"
Not having an answer to those questions, but feeling really, really good just thinking about them, he decided to put on a yellow tie with blue polka dots, to splash on some aftershave and to go out for a walk.
On his walk, we waved a friendly "hello" to everyone he saw, a change that made the neighbors fall off their ladders and trip over their dogs.
At work the next Monday, he took his box of chocolates to the cafeteria and shared it with everyone. After work, he offered to watch the newspaper stand so the owner could go to a doctor's appointment.
And instead of reading the paper after supper, he decided to bake brownies to shares with his neighbors. He even dusted off an old harmonica and played some tunes he knew as a boy.
This new air of festivity went on for a few weeks until the postman came back to his home with a sheepish look.
"Ah, do you remember that package I brought to you on Valentine's Day?" he stuttered.
"Yes," said Mr. Hatch reluctantly.
"Well, I'm afraid I delivered it to the wrong address, and if I don't redeliver it, my boss is going to have my job," the postman stammered.
Mr. Hatch gave the postman back the box, although the candy was long gone, and the card with the three simple words "Somebody loves you."
When the postman left, he realized with a heaviness in his heart that he had never felt before, "Nobody loves me, after all."
Heartbroken, he went back to wearing his old clothes and eating his cheese and mustard sandwich for lunch alone in the corner of the cafeteria. He neglected to talk to the butcher or the newspaper man after work and, once again, he ignored his neighbors.
Everyone started to wonder, "What's gotten into Mr. Hatch?"
When the postman told them what happened, they decided to all show up at his door one morning with a big sign that said, "Everybody loves you, Mr. Hatch."
Mr. Hatch cried tears of joy and stepped down off the porch to be with his friends!h
What a difference kindness, service and love made in Mr. Hatch's life and then he made in the lives of those in his community. One tiny box of chocolates and one three-word card that said, "Somebody loves you."
There are thousands of Mr. Hatches out there, and they are just waiting for those three little words.
So, I have a charge for you. Each of you received a card this morning. If you want to take me up on this challenge, take it home with you and write someone a note telling them they are loved. If you need more than one I've stacked the rest of them in the foyer for you.
Now it could be someone you know well and just want them to know how you feel, so you sign your name.
Or you could send it anonymously to a friend or to your elderly neighbor down the street.
Or you could leave it in the windshield wiper of a car at the store.
You want to live big? Then:
- Bless Big through kindness.
- Give Big through service, and
- Love Big by connecting with that innate spiritual quality in yourself and in all others!
Our meditation is going to be contemplative this morning, as I ask you to contemplate some NEW thoughts about these three ideas.
Let's close our eyes, and contemplate:
- How do I make kindness my religion?
- How may I serve others so that they may have what I desire?
- How can I regain or re-infuse my sense of the sacred through love?
And so it is.
aLiving Big Pam Grout (author of E Squared and E Cubed) p. 71
eEric Butterworth Spiritual Economics p. 108
fLiving Big Pam Grout p. 161
gLiving Big Pam Grout p. 163
hLiving Big Pam Grout p. 72