Keys to Life
The Power of Choice. Every one of us makes countless choices every day. Every choice we make has an impact on our lives. Even insignificant choices can affect what we experience and how we feel. When hunger strikes, we can reach for a healthy, nutritious snack, or we can choose the sugar high of junk food.
The more important the decision, the more profound its effect. For instance, how do I act towards that person who treated me badly? Do I generally choose to be passive, or do I actively set clear intentions and create what I want in my life? Every choice we make, however big or small, affects us in some way.
How Do You Make Choices? If you're interested in living a richer, fuller life, 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 what's best – what's best for you and for all of us. 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.
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. What matters is that whatever decision you make, you are clear in your intention of choosing based on what's best. If it later turns out that you made what appears to have been a bad choice, there's no need for guilt. Knowing that you did your best to choose with a sincere desire for what's best for all involved, your conscience stays clear and open. This then allows you to more easily learn from your mistakes, and to live with a clear heart and mind.
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. So as we move through each day of our lives, let us remember to include ourselves as we do our best to choose what's best for all of us.
Many Meanings for Divine. Guidance can come from many sources. Yet by opening to guidance from the divine, we open to the support of powerful forces greater than ourselves. The divine has different meanings for different people, whether it be God, Creator, Jehovah, Allah, or Great Spirit. Yet even if you don't believe in any of these, consider the possibility that there is a very wise part of yourself – a higher self or a deeper self – which can provide you with guidance. What is important is that we open to this presence, however we choose to define the divine, and that we consciously invite this powerful guidance into our daily lives.
All Requests Only if it's Best. When seeking divine guidance with a specific result, be sure to end with "only if this is what's best." There are times when what's best is not what's easiest or most enjoyable. Sometimes unwanted or unexpected challenges, difficult situations, and even pain can teach us important lessons that in the long run help us to enjoy life more fully. When we choose to see all experiences as gifts from the divine and opportunities for growth and understanding, we open to a deeper level of divine guidance.
Acceptance and Compassion
Our Core 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.
The Mask. 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. Outwardly we might appear happy or content, yet on the inside most of us to varying degrees feel unhappy with who we are. Yet beneath it all, that shining essence is still there. No matter how much we may have forgotten, no matter how thick those overshadowing layers may be, our beautiful core essence is and has always been there.
Acceptance and Compassion for Myself. By choosing 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 invite that beautiful inner essence to shine through the clouds and to shine again in your life. When fears, dark thoughts, or difficult emotions arise, first choose to accept that they are there. Then open to finding compassion for these dark clouds and where they came from. Ask for divine guidance as you explore and transform these dark places.
Courage. It takes courage to accept and have compassion for our fears and weaknesses. Yet 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 challenging, as some people are unable or unwilling to accept certain parts of us. 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 of relating to others.
Acceptance and Compassion for Others. As you develop greater acceptance and compassion for yourself, you will notice that others, too, have lost touch with their shining core essence. 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. 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.
Love and Empowerment
Let me start with myself. I will do my best to love and empower myself to be the best I can be every day of my life. By making this commitment to yourself, it becomes easier to love and empower those around you. But do you really want to give this gift to all other people? What if you really don't like someone? In this case, you can remind yourself that it is usually a person's personality that you don't like – the mask or dark clouds blocking their deeper essence. Remember that beneath the mask is a shining divine essence. While acknowledging those parts you don't like, do your best to empower the shining being hidden beneath the mask or personality that you don't like. You can choose to love and empower the divine spark within all.
Negative Judgment. 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 the part of you that wants to judge – the part that wants to be right or better than others. Then do your best to learn from your judgment and 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.
Stopping harm. What if someone does something that is clearly wrong or causes harm? In this case, 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 may be the most loving, empowering action you can take. Yet even as you take action, open to seeing the inner turmoil that causes people to do harm. You can act from a place of love and compassion, even while firmly stopping someone 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... Imagine 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. 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 heart to add to their numbers. Let us choose every day of our lives to do what's best for all, to open to divine guidance, to accept and find compassion, and to love and empower ourselves and all around us to be the best that we can be.
For the full, eight-page version of Simple Keys: www.weboflove.org/keystolife
Simple Keys to Life by Fred Burks