August 26:When Things Don’t Go as Planned

So, the boyfriend calls, says he’s going hiking with his buddies for a week, cancels his date with you, and says he hopes you won’t be mad.

Or the bank calls and says you’re overdrawn, and you don’t know how that can be. You’ve been trying to carefully watch your deposits and checks. You’ve gone out of your way not to mess up. This can’t be right!

What do you do when life seems to force you to react? You can panic, become anxious, yell, and respond with a counterattack. But that probably won’t solve the problem. And it may turn things into a brawl.
Or you can calm down. Breathe deeply. Tell yourself to relax. Say as little as possible, if that’s possible, while you’re upset and disturbed. If a problem or disturbance that’s not fair interrupts your life, try responding by saying “hmmrn.” Then calm down and decide what you need to do.

There’s a time to get upset, yell, scream, and shout. But that time isn’t when you’re trying to sort out problems. Before you take action, get centered, calm, and clear.

You will discover that when you’re centered and calm, you’re more powerful than you think.

God, help me start sailing through life with more ease by learning to relax and let life be.

August 25: Dealing with Manipulation

A few years ago I was in Jordan on an excursion through the Middle East. I wanted to go to Pakistan, but when I got to the Pakistani embassy in Jordan, an official ordered me to go to the American embassy, miles away, saying, “You have to get a piece of paper from your government vouching for you. That’s the only way the government of Pakistan wifi even consider your request.”

I went to the American embassy in Jordan and stood in line there all day. Finally, when it was my turn, I told the gentleman why I was there. “That’s ridiculous,” he said. “There’s no such thing as an international voucher for people in the United States. That’s what a passport does. It says the American government is vouching for you, declaring you worthy and reliable to travel abroad.”

He began to speak more quietly. “He’s just messing with you,” he said, of the government official at the other agency. “Sometimes they like to play games with people, show them how much power they really have.”

I went back to the Pakistani embassy. When I returned, there was an elderly Muslim man sitting in the waiting room. He wore a turban. His head was bowed. He was reciting the Koran and rubbing his string of prayer beads.

He helped set the tone and reminded me of what I needed to do: calm down, be peaceful, stop resisting, and harmonize with the situation. It didn’t matter if the visa man was wrong and I was right. He had the power. I needed to go to him. I sat quietly waiting for my turn. When I went up to the counter, I deliberately acknowledged his point of view. Then I gently explained that I didn’t get the piece of paper he asked for from the American embassy, because that paper didn’t exist. I explained it was probably the only time in my life I’d be in this area of the world. I pointed to the poster on the wall. ‘The Himalayas are so beautiful there,” I said. “If I don’t go now, I don’t know that I ever will. You have the power to say yes or no. And I have no choice but to go along with whatever you say. It’s in your hands.”

He told me to go sit down. I did. Five minutes later, he called me back to the stand. “Here,” he said, handing me my passport. “Enjoy your visit to Pakistan.”

We have a right to get as mad as we want, but sometimes harmonizing can achieve so much more than yelling in indig nation or even fighting back. Next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re being manipulated, let go of your resistance and practice harmony instead.

God, teach me the power of moving gently, with humility and respect, through the world.

August 24: Guilt is a Rock

Guilt is a rock. It lies in the pit of our stomachs and keeps us awake at night. All of our muscles work overtime just to carry it around, and yet we still hold on to it.

Yesterday, you stumbled. That was yesterday. But you also righted your wrong and vowed to do better today. So why are you still carrying that guilt around with you?

If you’re in recovery you probably did some terrible things before you got sober. How can you ever move on? But you got sober. You made amends. What happened yesterday belongs to yesterday. Today, you can let go of your guilt and relax in the peace that comes from walking a path with heart

Have you made a list of people you have harmed and made amends to them, as suggested in the Eighth and Ninth Steps of the Twelve Step programs? That’s an excellent way to begin clearing and releasing guilt. If you’re not in a Twelve Step program, there are other options. Most religions offer rituals to clear guilt. Sometimes, we’ve taken all these steps and we still feel guilty. What’s wrong? We’re hanging on to our guilt, and we’re being hard on ourselves.

You will find it easier to relax and flow through the experiences of your life if you let go of the weight of yesterday’s guilt.

God, today I give you all of the guilt from my past. Take it from me, and allow me to begin fresh right now. Help me make the amends I need to make, then let my guilt go.

August 23: Attitude is Contagious

“I like skydiving with Todd,” Pat said. “He’s got such a good attitude. When you’re in the air with him, no matter what happens, you just get the feeling that everything’s okay.”

Being relaxed is contagious. Just as someone who’s miserable, frightened, and negative can affect the people around him or her, being relaxed, clear, and humbly confident can affect the people we touch, too. Have you ever known anyone like that —someone with a sense of humor, someone who’s surrendered, full of joy, and at peace with himself or herself? This is someone who not only knows things are going to be okay —that person knows things are okay now.

Today, if you are going to spread anything, let it be joy and goodwill.

God, help me lighten up. Make my joy contagious.

Activity: Today, watch yourself as you go through your day. If you were a neutral observer of yourself, how would you describe yourself? What words would you use? Which words would you like to use to describe yourself? Watch your interactions with other people—people you know and strangers, such as clerks in stores and banks. Don’t judge yourself, just observe. Awareness is the key. Become aware of who you are, how you respond to other people, and how they react to you. Decide what attitude you’d like to share with the people in your world.

August 22: Go With the Flow

I visited the Hoover Dam in Nevada some time ago and marveled at its construction and purpose. Here was a huge structure that had been built into a canyon to harness the power of thousands of tons of moving water.

The water flows through the machinery and the energy of the moving water is transformed into electricity that powers thousands of homes and businesses. But it wouldn’t work if you dammed up a lake, because the water has to be moving for it to have power.

The secret to the power is in the flowing.

How often we try to stifle the flow of events in our lives with control. We think that if we could only get things to go the way we want, then everything would be all right. We take the energy of the universe and bottle it up. And we kill its energy

Let go of control.

Let the energy of life flow through and around you. You can learn to direct the flow, but you don’t need to control it. Become open to the energy that is flowing around you, and rather than trying to bottle it up, let it flow. Energy is useful only when it is flowing.

Relax and go with the flow of the universe. You’ll be better able to harness its power.

God, help me let go of my need to control. Help me let go of my fear.

August 21: Time Away From Work Can Help Your Career

Joe is a professional chef. He started working in kitchens before he was in his teens. Gradually, he worked his way up from washing dishes until he found himself running a successful catering operation. The only problem was, the more successful the business became, the less time Joe had for the rest of his life. Joe reveled in the knowledge that he was the hardest-working guy he knew. In his mind, the company existed solely because he was there.

Joe was surprised when his wife left him for someone less successful.

“How could she do that to me?” he moaned to friends. “I worked my tail off so she could have nice things and this is how she repays me?” Then one day while catering a wedding, he realized what had happened. He hadn’t been present for his marriage. He had fallen victim to his own success, imprisoned by the company he had created. He took a day off. Then a weekend. Then he trained an assistant to help run the company. It cost him money at the outset, but he discovered life in the process. “1 was so busy being a success,” he says, “that I didn’t realize how miserable I was.” When he took a vacation to the Southwest, his culinary instincts got the best of him and he spent half of the vacation learning new recipes, but he had fun. “For the first time in years, I was playing in the kitchen again rather than just working,” Joe says.

Today Joe has discovered the joy of balance. He no longer feels that he alone must bear the weight of the world, and is stronger for it. His business is growing and he has gotten a reputation as an innovator, largely due to things he has learned while not in the kitchen. When we’re successful, it’s difficult to take time away from our work; it feels like the success that we worked so hard for will slip away if we’re not there tending to it every moment. The truth is, we get so busy earning a living that we forget to have a life.

Take some time to see if you could spend a little less time at the office and a little more time with yourself and the ones you love. You might be pleasantly surprised at the effect a break can have on your motivation and the joy you have for what you do.

August 20: Stop Defending Yourself

Do you walk around wearing a suit of armor? Often, if we were hurt as children or hurt frequently as adults, we put on a suit of emotional armor to protect us from being hurt more. We lower our visor to avoid seeing the pain and block out all hurtful sights. We pick up weapons, sharp words, manipulative behaviors, acting out –anything to help us defend ours elves against those who would hurt us again. We get used to being in battle and soon all of life is a struggle.

Stop fighting. Yes, you have been hurt. Many of us have. But when you project the characteristics of one person onto everyone you know, you don’t allow their true selves to shine through. All you can see is the limited view from your visor.

You are growing and gaining strength every day. You’re safe now. Why not put down the weapons for a little while, lift the visor on your suit of armor, and see the people around you for who they are—mostly kind, good-hearted ordinary people just like you. They have been hurt and healed; they have won and lost. They laugh and they cry. Open up to them, and allow the sharing to begin to heal you and your heart.

God, help me to lower my defenses today, to be open to the good in the people around me and to the good that I have to offer them.