Simple Keys to a Fuller Life
Note: For a concise, two-page summary of this inspiring eight-page essay, click here.
Do you have any idea how full your life can be?
Do you have any idea how rich your life can be?
If you're willing to stop, to reach inside, and to feel for a moment, you are likely to become aware that there is a significant, untapped potential inside of you. Below are some simple methods to explore opening more fully to your own inner potential.
The simple keys to life presented here can be practiced by anyone with an open mind and an open heart. Though the principles are simple, putting them into practice in your daily life may not be easy at first. Yet if you choose to set clear intentions and follow through, the doors of transformation could very well open. You may be surprised at the positive changes that begin to unfold in your life. You may find that these truly are simple keys to a fuller life.
What's Best: Serving the Greater Good
The Power of Choice
Every one of us makes countless choices every day. Every choice we make has an impact on our lives. Even seemingly insignificant choices can affect what we experience and sometimes how we feel as we move through the day. When hunger strikes, we can reach for a healthy, nutritious snack, or we can choose the sugar high of junk food. This choice impacts our body and health, and can even affect the way we think and feel about ourselves.
The more important the decision, the more profound its effect. For instance, how do I choose to act towards that person who treated me badly? Where do I choose to focus my time and energy? Do I generally choose to be passive and wait for things to happen to me, or do I actively set clear intentions and create what I want in my life? These major decisions have a profound impact not only on how our lives unfold, but also on how we feel about ourselves and how we relate to others. Every choice we make, however big or small, affects us in some way.
How Do You Make Choices?
What do you use to guide you in making choices and decisions throughout your day? If you are interested in living a richer, fuller life, there is a way you can give your choices a clear focus and direction. There is a foundation upon which you can base all of your decisions which can make life better not only for you, but also for those around you. This foundation is to choose based on serving the greater good, or in other words, choosing what's best for you and for all of us.
I will do my best to choose what's best for me and for all of us.
Imagine a world where everyone made choices based on what's best. Imagine if every parent, spouse, friend, teacher, businessperson, and politician truly did their best to choose what's best for all involved in every decision they made. We would certainly live in a more caring, supportive world.
Now imagine if you based all of your choices every day on what's best for all involved. You might have to make compromises at times, yet think of how much fuller and clearer your life could be. Think of how much better you might feel about yourself.
It's the Intention
"But how do I know what is really best?" you might ask. The answer is simple. It doesn't matter. What matters is not the choice you make, but rather the intention behind your choice. Many times you won't know what's best. You will not be clear which choice is best for all concerned. What matters is that whatever decision you make, you are clear in your intention of choosing based on what's best for you and for all involved.
If it later turns out that you made what appears to have been a bad choice, there's no need for guilt. By simply knowing that you did your best to choose with a sincere desire for what's best, your conscience stays clear and open. This then allows you to more easily learn from your mistakes, and to live with a clear mind and heart.
What's Best for Me, Too!
Choosing what's best does not mean you have to always sacrifice yourself for others. An overly exhausted mother can lose her temper easily. Some time off for this mother might seem selfish, yet in the long run, it can help her to be a better mother to her children. At times, giving to yourself is what's best for all involved.
Big Choices Make a Big Difference
With the many choices we make every day, it would be impossible to consciously think about what's best all the time. With smaller choices, there's no need to consciously think about it. Simply knowing that you always hold this intention is enough. What is important, though, is that whenever you find yourself facing a difficult or important decision, remind yourself of your intention to choose based on what's best.
By making a commitment to practice this simple key every day and in all aspects of your life, choosing what's best will gradually become a natural part of who you are. After a while, you may be surprised to find your mind becoming clearer and your heart feeling lighter. Your decisions become easier and more focused, and your life becomes much richer and fuller. So as we move through each day of our lives, let us do our best to choose what's best for all of us.
Opening to Divine Guidance
Many Forms of Guidance
Guidance comes in many forms. Family or friends may give wonderful words of wisdom in dealing with a particular problem or situation. An inspiring book or TV program might provide meaningful advice. All of this guidance can be useful, particularly if it helps to support our desire to choose what's best. The most powerful guidance, however, often comes from sources unseen. By opening to guidance from the divine, we open to the support of powerful forces greater than ourselves, which can help our lives to grow and blossom ever more beautifully.
Many Meanings for Divine
The divine has different meanings to different people. For some, the divine means God, Creator, Jehovah, Allah, Great Spirit, or whatever we call the supreme consciousness or all encompassing essence of the universe. For others, the divine involves the realm of our forefathers or ancestors. For some it is the spirits of nature or spirits from other realms. Still others believe that each of us has one or more guardian angels, that we all have a guiding spirit or spirits to help us along the way. Some people believe in all of these.
Yet even if you don't believe in any of the above, you might open to the possibility that there is a very wise part of yourself – a higher self or a deeper self – which can provide you with divine guidance from within.
How we define or view the divine is not important here. What is important is that we open to this divine presence, however we choose to define it, and that we consciously invite this powerful guidance into our daily lives.
I will open to guidance from the divine.
Many Ways to Ask
There are many ways to ask for divine guidance. You may already have your own meaningful prayer or meditation practice. You may want to experiment with different ways you hear about, read about, or come up with yourself. Choose whatever way feels best to you.
One beautiful practice is to set aside a few minutes each morning upon awakening. First, reaffirm your commitment to do what's best for yourself and for all in your life this day. Then, ask directly to the divine for guidance in making choices that are best for all involved throughout the coming day. You might also welcome wisdom and guidance from any angels, deceased relatives and friends, or other spirits committed to what's best for all of us. You can do the same at bedtime every night, setting aside time to ask for guidance during your sleep and dream time.
Any time during the day when you need to make a significant decision, or you just want to calm or center yourself, stop for a moment. Take time to ask the divine for help, guidance, and inspiration in choosing what's best for you and for all of us.
All Requests Only if it's Best
In communicating with the divine, you might at times request or pray for a particular result. When you ask for something specific, by ending with "only if this is what's best," you open to a higher level of guidance. There are times when in asking for something you may feel certain that you know what's best. Yet there can be unforeseen consequences or reasons why what you're asking for is not what's best. By always adding, "only if this is what's best for all of us," you allow divine forces to enrich your life and the lives of those around you in unexpected ways.
Challenges as Teachers
There are times when what's best is not what's easiest or most enjoyable. Sometimes unwanted challenges, difficult situations, and even pain can teach us important lessons that in the long run will help us to enjoy life more fully. When we accept all experiences as gifts from the divine and opportunities for growth and understanding, we open to a deeper level of divine guidance.
Atheists Can Benefit, Too
Even if you are uncertain whether God or the divine exists, give this key a try. You might be surprised at what happens, particularly if you are open to change and growth in your life. The results may not always be what you hoped for or expected, but in the long run you are likely to find your life becoming much richer, fuller, and more satisfying.
By opening to divine guidance in all things and asking for guidance in choosing what's best for all of us, we invite loving, supportive forces greater than ourselves to help bring whatever is best into our lives and the lives of those around us.
Acceptance and Compassion
Avoiding the Real Me
After making it through a mid-life crisis, an insightful man once commented, "I've spent my whole life trying to be someone who I'm not. Now I'm ready to focus on accepting and enjoying who I am." So many people are trying to be someone they are not: trying to be richer, to be better looking, to feel better, to gain status, or just to be liked by others. So many people are not happy with who they are.
Our Divine Essence
Deep down we are all beautiful beings worthy of love and support. The sweet innocence of babies and young children is a clear example of this. Yet for most of us, the shining essence with which we came into this life became obscured over the years as our family and others were unable to give us the kind of unconditional love and support we so craved.
As children, when we were repeatedly told that we were not good enough or were punished just for being who we are, thick layers of confusion and doubt developed, clouding our divine essence. Layers of fear and insecurity were woven into our personalities as we learned to survive in a world where others often cared about us only if we made them happy, or when we proved ourselves to be someone they wanted us to be.
By the time we are grown, most of us have developed a protective mask or persona to hide these layers of fear and insecurity from others, and at times even from ourselves. Though we might outwardly appear happy or content, on the inside most of us to varying degrees feel unhappy with who we are, wishing we were somebody we are not.
We feel the heavy burden of the fears, wounds, and insecurities which have built up. We long ago lost touch with that beautiful, shining core inside of us, buried under unseen layers of fear, anger, guilt, shame, insecurity, inadequacy, and more.
Yet that shining essence is still there. It has always been there. Most of us at some point in our lives have had peak experiences where that deeper essence broke through; times where we felt deeply satisfied about our lives, or where we were reminded of who we really are. No matter how much you may have forgotten, no matter how thick those layers clouding your essence may be, your shining core is and always has been there.
Acceptance and Compassion for Myself
You can choose right now to invite that beautiful inner essence to shine through the clouds and to shine again in your life. By doing your best to accept and have compassion for all of who you are – both your deep shining essence and the layers of dark clouds within – you can open more fully to life, and enjoy the gift of who you are.
When fears, dark thoughts, difficult emotions, or selfish desires arise, first choose to accept that they are there. Once you've recognized and accepted them, work towards finding compassion for these dark clouds and where they came from. By choosing to accept and have compassion for all parts of yourself, the clouds gradually begin to shift and disperse. Pathways to your divine core begin to open, thus allowing your radiant inner essence to shine through. And don't forget to ask for divine guidance and for what's best for all as you explore and transform these dark and hidden places.
It takes courage to accept and find compassion for our fears and weaknesses. It takes even more courage to allow others to see the clouds, to see us as we really are. Yet by allowing ourselves to be seen – by doing our best to be fully ourselves in all our strengths and weaknesses – our relationships can grow richer, deeper, and more meaningful.
This may be awkward at first. It can be challenging, as some people are unable or unwilling to accept certain parts of who we are. Some may even reject us or ask us not to be our real selves with them. Yet as those around us see us becoming more real and honest with them, many will also be inspired to be more real and honest with us. Thus, instead of continually avoiding or denying those clouds or dark layers in both ourselves and others, we open to a deeper, more authentic way of living and relating with others.
As these hidden parts of ourselves are accepted and forgiven, they become increasingly lighter. Life gradually becomes fuller and more free as we no longer have to expend so much energy in supporting a mask or persona. Like that insightful middle-aged man, we are more able to accept and enjoy who we are right now, with all our strengths and weaknesses.
Acceptance and Compassion for Others
As you develop greater acceptance and compassion for yourself, you will notice that others, too, have many layers clouding their divine essence. In trying to survive in this world, they too have lost touch with who they really are. There is darkness and light, good and bad in all of us. Consider, too, the possibility that all of us are doing what we believe to be right based upon our beliefs, circumstances, and upbringing. As you work to accept and find compassion for yourself, it is most important that you choose also to give this gift to those around you.
I will do my best to accept and find compassion for myself and all around me.
The Serenity Prayer sums it up beautifully:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Acceptance of what is, coupled with compassion and discerning what we can change and what we cannot, allows us to find the courage to be all that we can be, and to empower others in doing the same.
I will do my best to choose what's best, and to open to divine guidance as I strive to accept and find compassion for myself and all around me. Through cultivating acceptance and compassion for both our bright inner essence and the dark layers which cloud that divine essence, we naturally open to expressing the final simple key – love and empowerment.
Love and Empowerment
Loving and Empowering Me
Let me start with myself. I will do my best to love myself and to empower myself to be the best I can be today and every day of my life. By making this commitment to yourself, to your own personal growth, it becomes easier to love and empower those around you.
Loving and Empowering All
Now let us move to others. But do you really want to give this gift to all other people? Can you really love and empower everyone around you? What if you really don't like someone?
When you feel a dislike towards a person, remind yourself that it is usually the personality that you don't like – the mask or dark clouds blocking their deeper essence. You can recognize that beneath the mask, beneath those dark clouds in everyone is a shining divine essence. While acknowledging those parts you don't like, do your best to find love and support for the shining being hidden beneath all the clouds, beneath the mask or personality that you don't like. You can choose to love and empower the divine spark within all.
A common distraction from the intention to love and empower is negative judgment. No matter how negative a person's actions or behavior might be, judging someone to be bad as a person does not empower or inspire anyone to be a better person.
When you find yourself feeling negative judgment, first acknowledge and have compassion for the part of you that wants to judge – the part that wants to be right and better than others. Remind yourself that we all have our faults and weaknesses. Do your best to understand and learn from your judgment.
Then let it go. Open to finding first acceptance, and then compassion and love both for you and for the person you judged. Choose to let your last thought always be that of love. In doing this, you can powerfully transform judgment into love and empowerment.
Preventing Harm While Recognizing Divine Essence
What if you see someone doing something that is clearly wrong or that causes harm? In this case, you can be firm and take whatever action you feel is best to stop harm. Enforcing a serious consequence with someone who has acted out of extreme self-interest at the expense of others may be the most loving, empowering action you can take.
Yet even as you take firm action, see if you can find compassion for what brought the person to do this. Open to seeing their inner clouds. Then choose to look beyond those clouds, beyond the inner turmoil that causes people to do harm. In this way, you can act from a place of love and support for their deeper essence, even while firmly stopping a person from doing wrong or causing harm.
Through choosing to see beneath all of the pain, suffering, and hatred, and to recognize and connect with the divine essence within even those who would do us harm, not only do we heal the world, we heal ourselves.
Imagine for a moment a world where all people truly did their best to love and empower each other. Imagine if a significant number of the people on this planet truly did their best to live by these simple keys to life or similar ideals. You can choose to become one of those people right now. You can choose to make your life and our world a better place.
It is fully possible. There are people of all races, religions, and beliefs around the globe already committed to living by these or similar ideals. Let us then choose with an open mind and an open heart to add to their numbers. Let us choose every day of our lives to do our best to love and empower ourselves and all we meet to be the very best we can be.
Afterthought – Simple Keys to a Fuller Life
- I will do my best to choose what's best for me and for all of us.
- I will open to guidance from the divine.
Acceptance and Compassion
- I will accept and find compassion for myself and all around me.
Love and Empowerment
- I will love and empower all to be the best that we can be.
Simple Keys, Yet Powerful Keys
By remembering and living these simple keys to life as you move through each day, your life is bound to grow richer and fuller. You can start each day by recommitting yourself to these keys. At difficult times during the day, or even when just resting or taking a break, you can remind yourself of one or more of these intentions. At night before sleep, give thanks for the day and ask for what's best for yourself and for all who share our world.
Consider also asking family and friends who share this commitment to support and remind you in times of need. Take some time after you finish reading this to explore how you might apply these keys to current challenges in your life, and invite suggestions and feedback from others. And most importantly, open to divine guidance in digesting and integrating what you've read here.
If you are still uncertain about these keys, practice them for a while to see if your life changes for the better. If after awhile you don't see the results you'd hoped for, adapt them in a way that works for you. Consider dropping one or adding new keys of your own. Explore the possibility that living with clear intentions provides direction and focus, and can lead to a deeper, more meaningful life. In whatever way feels best to you, give yourself a chance to make your life richer and fuller.
No matter what happens, no matter what you choose to do with these keys to life and with your life in general, know that there are those of us here who continually wish you much love and all the very best in your journey through life. We love and support you in being the very best you can be every day of your life.
For a concise, two-page summary of this inspiring essay: http://www.weboflove.org/keystolife2
Please feel free to copy and share these simple keys to life with others.
It is a gift of thanks for all I've been given in my life.
With abundant love and very best wishes,
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For an inspirational Internet community based on these keys to life: www.inspiringcommunity.org
If you are interested in being the change in our world: http://www.insightcourse.net
For more ideas and suggestions from a global perspective: www.WantToKnow.info/brighterfuture
For an empowering list of the most inspiring, transformative materials I've found, click here