Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do you realize that you’re living someone else’s dream?

It’s no secret that your relationships with others are enriched when you learn to appreciate one another for the little things (not just the big stuff). The same goes for feeling enriched in the life you live – regardless of your circumstances. When you learn to continuously appreciate the “little” things in life, only then will you discover an indestructible inner peace within – one that money cannot buy.

This is most evident in people who are less fortunate and yet able to stay in good spirits. They’ve found a way to maintain inner peace regardless of their situation.

I’ve come to know that part of the journey to finding inner peace is to understand life is so much more than what’s happening in front of us. Just because we do not see it does not mean it isn’t there. Just because we do not feel it does not mean it isn’t happening. Your life, whether you believe this or not, is but only a dream for billions of people in this world.

Take thirty bucks for example: what’s thirty bucks to you? How do you spend thirty bucks in a single day?

Now, what if I told you, in most poverty stricken countries, thirty bucks can provide a child three nourishing meals a day, proper education and medical care for one full month?

In 1994, through World Vision, I sponsored a 5-year-old child in Zimbabwe, Africa, for thirty dollars a month. Her name was Lasi Sibanda. We stayed in touch by mail. However, four years ago, she sent me a letter expressing her deepest gratitude for my sponsorship. The funds have raised her well—she completed school and was working.

What I didn’t know was that the funds also helped her family become self-sufficient and in turn, were able to contribute in helping their community. They no longer needed my help. Instead, I was kindly led to sponsor 4-year-old Doreen Komunjumba in Uganda, Africa. It was then that I truly grasp the notion of what thirty dollars can do.

Lives can be empowered… A better future can take shape…

Sadly, many people think of the world as a compartmentalized entity that is made up of various countries. Some of these countries are rich, some poor. Some are over populated, and some under populated. Some are rich with natural resources, others are barren and infertile.

However, where we as individuals fit into this scheme, some may say it’s the luck of the draw and others may say it’s a choice we can make for this particular lifetime.

If you were born in a region of the world that happens to be rich with resources, or economically prosperous, you’re more likely to not worry about where to go for food, what disease you may die of tomorrow, or who will take care of you when you’re sick.

The reality is that we are all inhabitants of this single place called earth, and there is no reason why one person arbitrarily born in one country should live in poverty, while others born in another country live a relatively lavish lifestyle.

Imagine for a moment…if the world was one country. Then imagine that the world president started allocating land to all the citizens. How would you feel if you were randomly given a piece of land which turned out to be a desert barren of life, while your next door neighbor ended up on top of a gold mine? Obviously you would think it was unfair, right?

Well then imagine if your rich neighbor started using their wealth and influence to make your life even more difficult by taking what little resources you had, and polluting your environment. That is exactly what happens today between developed and undeveloped countries.

It is a fact that rich nations would not be wealthy if there were not poor nations to support us. We could not possibly afford our products if it wasn’t for people working in factories for
less than a dollar a day, nor could we afford to feed ourselves if it wasn’t for the billions of people farming in developing countries for less than three hundred dollars a year.

We would not be able to buy prawns if it wasn’t for the tens of thousands of prawn farms in south east Asia and south America—as there is no way developed societies would allow this environmentally damaging practice to take place in our own backyard.

Examples like these are endless, but they show that the developed world’s standard of living, for the most part, is supported by the demise of others.

It is not one person that created the divide between the developed world and the developing world, nor can one person fix the issues. Therefore, we as “global citizens” all have a social and moral obligation to help each other to enable a safe and healthy life for all.

Keep this in mind when you’re ready to donate to a charity of your choice. After all, what does thirty bucks mean to you? A cheap sweater? Five Starbucks coffee? For the less fortunate, it means much more; it means a chance for health and education, hope for the future and a great reason to live.

According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.

With what is going on in Haiti today, I need not say more. If you’re not in a position to help financially, it’s okay. Helping is not only about providing something tangible. You can give your time, your love, your prayers. Click here to find out how you can help Haiti.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

A deeper meaning: What it really means to “be in the right place”

Happy new year! It always brings me great pleasure to share the first article of the new year with you.

As I look at the many years that I’ve had this fortunate opportunity to share my thoughts with you, I can’t help but know that this year is going to be a great year, unlike any other. I say this with confidence because I can now share the depth of the meaning, “be in the right place.” Let me explain.

You know how sometimes things are not what they seem – how something can appear to be going in a certain direction only to unfold in a totally unpredictable way? Or maybe you hear something said one way, but later find out that it holds a much deeper meaning?

At different points in our lives we ask questions such as: How do I find the right job for me, or, How do I find the right partner for me? And the answers we get from people we look up to may in one way or another conclude in different variations of “It’ll just happen when the time is right” or “You just have to be in the right place.”

And with that, we think that “it’s time” and we have to be “somewhere” to find what we’re looking for. So we start searching all over the place. We think we'll find it out there – a place outside of us – and we forget to pay attention to what’s within – the place inside us. This important "place" within us resides our state of mind, our attitude, our belief. This place within must be tended to first before we can find any place else to be truly meaningful.

Many times in our lives we fail to achieve the things we so desire because we begin our journey searching from the outside in, instead of from the inside out.

But it is until you learn to understand that to “be in the right place” begins with you being in the right place from within, then only can you truly experience peace in whatever you do. And it is when you’re in this state of peace that “miracles” or “good luck” can happen. So perhaps it’s time to create your fate by changing your state – your state of mind.

What truly affect your state of mind and attitude at the core level are your beliefs – the thoughts and emotions you’ve learned and chosen as your truth. We call them truths because they are things we feel we “know” based on our own personal experience.

But what we may neglect to understand here is that there are many truths out there, many different beliefs. Some will serve you better than others. So it would be best to let go of a belief that has not been serving you well and instead, choose a belief that will encourage a healthy state of mind.

Remember: Beliefs are nothing more than something you’ve held in your mind long enough that they’ve become “real” to you – they’ve become your “truth.” That’s all a belief really is – nothing more.

The right attitude – a healthy state of mind – is what attracts the right people, events and circumstances to you and puts you in a good place – the right place – a place we so often think is a result of “luck.” And so we say things like, You just so happen to “be in the right place at the “right time.” But really, all along, the right place and right time could not have happened if you didn’t first take the time to put your mind and your heart in the right place.

My friends, I want this to be a start of a great decade for you, too. So let’s do this together! You know they say two heads are better than one – especially two heads with the same intentions. So let’s join heads! The more the merrier! Write me anytime to share your thoughts. As always, I’ll do my best to guide you well.

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