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Sunshine or Soulshine?

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I grew up in a very sunny location of our Earth. And once I moved out of my homeland into America, I didn’t find myself in Arizona or California!

In Upstate NY and Chicago, where I spent most of my time in USA, weeks could go by without any significant sunshine. Add to that my current job where I spend the daytime in a dull office, with no view of daylight, and it can get depressing without the life-giving sun!

Is that a good reason for me to be depressed, and blame it on the clouds? I asked myself. And I believe the answer is NO.

There is a physical aspect to this problem, which I tried to solve with supplements. For example, most people living in the north are deficient in vitamin D, so I make sure I increase my intake of vitamin D3 during the winter. The herb St. John’s Wort is also known to help with mild to moderate depression, so I get my share of it as well. And when it comes to the most helpful tool against depression, exercise, I still can’t get myself to be an athlete! However living in the city forces me to walk, which is a great side-benefit to living in a big city and depend on public transportation for my daily commute to work.

The second, and in my opinion most important aspect of the problem resides no further than our own mind. If there is enough sunshine inside, we will be able to handle the lack of it outside!

The question then is: how to make it sunny more often inside?

My recipe is simple:

When we have ongoing projects and a purpose, we have inner sunshine.

When our minds are active and well fed with good ideas and thoughts, we have inner sunshine.

When we have a good and active social life, we have inner sunshine.

When our spirituality is well and alive, we have inner sunshine.

When we live in love (of people and the Universe), we have inner sunshine.

Did I miss any sun-giving techniques? How do you handle the lack of sunshine?

7 Prosperity Lessons from The Tree

We will never meet a depressed tree, a lazy flower, or a procrastinating apple. Indeed, people can impose their polluting products on the innocent lives of Nature, but no matter how much toxins they swallow, they keep giving their vivid colors, satisfying variety of tastes, and nutritional energy.

We can learn a great deal from plants. They are the eternal and genuine representatives of Life; how can we possibly afford to ignore their messages and lessons! We need them, not only for food and oxygen, but for the eternal examples of beauty, sustainability, abundance, contentment and unpretentious giving that they provide!

How about taking the Tree as a role model?! The Tree is doing something right. No, it’s doing everything right!
From now on, when you meet a tree, look at it with love and respect, and listen to some of the eternal lessons that it keeps trying to teach you and me:

1. Plant the seed, or it will remain an insignificant and mediocre being.
We have an idea, we have money, we have a learned skill or a natural talent; they are only “seeds”. The Tree tells you that seeds alone are not enough. She was a seed before, but growth comes with more than a seed. If you have a seed (time, talent, information, ideas) don’t let it die. It could become a magnificent tree, if you water and take care of it.

2. Hide the seed under the ground!
Seeds grow “underground”! The grown up Tree is telling you to keep your seeds hidden in the very early stages, until you make sure you put enough work into it to allow it to go above the ground. Once it grows visible and it has some roots, go out and show it to the world!
We repeatedly read and heard that those who talk don’t work, and those who work are too busy to talk about their work! Hide your seeds and let them grow underground, until they take some shape.

3. Give fruits, shade, beauty, or unseen oxygen!
To be of value, we have to give something of value. There is no way around that. The Tree is appreciated for its delicious and nutritious fruits, and for its beauty. She even gives us oxygen without us seeing or noticing this indispensable breath of life. To live beautifully like the Tree does, we need to figure out something to give to people and to the world; something beneficial and beautiful.

4. Be beautiful.
Yes the Tree is functional. She has many uses and benefits. She gives fruits and shade and woods and oxygen. All this giving doesn’t prevent her from also being beautiful! Like the Tree, we have to take care of how we look. Beauty does good. We enjoy looking at the Tree even if we don’t use any of its benefits; beauty alone is enough. When we take care of our body, without vanity, we just make a small contribution beautifying the human scenery wherever we go.

5. Be, don’t scream.
The Tree doesn’t need to hang a sign enumerating why she’s good and beautiful. She just is! You take the fruit and eat it, you enjoy the greenery and beauty, without her yelling at you: look how good, how delicious, how beneficial I am!
Do your work, and let it speak for you. Speak in actions and people will praise you in words.

6. Mangos are not better than apples.
Trees are great because they come in so many different flavors and looks. We definitely won’t like to have a world where all the fruit trees give out mangoes, no matter how much we love mangoes! The beauty of the world is the great variety it has to offer!
We, the human trees, are the same. We don’t need to be like anyone else if it’s not in our design. We don’t need to give strawberry if we’re designed to give apples; first because we can’t, no matter how hard we try, and second because apples have their fans, just like strawberries have theirs! Go with your design, your natural abilities, this is what you’re supposed to give! Don’t think you have to be designed any other way. Your own fruits have their very particular use and fans. If you’re an apple, trying to be a strawberry will just give you and the world some fake and tasteless strawberries, while making you miserable and uselessly exhausted.

7. Grow at your own pace.
Every tree has its own pace and needs a different time to grow. Don’t rush. As long as you know your special kind of fruit, work on it, and forget about how long it will take for the tree to grow high into the sky!

Free From The Inside Out

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Are you really free?

May be you are, but not completely. There could be aspects of your life where you’re not totally free. You could be in debt, therefore your money is not free; you have to surrender your payments every month, God knows for how long! May be you dislike your job too. You “have to” go every day, or you won’t find the money to survive. You feel “forced” to do something meaningless and uninteresting. That’s not freedom. As you can see, freedom is not only about being out of prison!

Freedom, or the lack of it, can even be more subtle than that. Any addiction, be it a substance or a behavior, is a restriction on our freedom. Addictions imprison our free will to do what we know is right and beneficial and to avoid harm.

Addiction to a substance is not limited to drugs or nicotine or caffeine. Some people have to have their sugary treats every day. Others can’t imagine giving up McDonald. Many know that vegetables are what they should eat, but they don’t seem to be free enough to eat the veggies and forget about the toxic processed foods. This is not freedom.

Bad habits are sometimes the closest thing to a life sentence! People could struggle for decades just to overcome a single habit like procrastination! Decades for one single behavior to get out of?! Others spend their life time trying to escape their bad eating habits, that’s a life sentence for our rational mind, imprisoned and guarded by our taste buds and appetite!

We cherish freedom. It deserves. But we don’t seem to grasp the extent of the actual lack of our innermost freedoms. When our body is the prisoner of our habits. When our mind is the prisoner of our body. When our mind and body are the prisoners of our emotions. When our mind, body and emotions are prisoners of our subconscious mind!

When we rejoice in our being free from a physical prison, it’s only a distraction from deeper and much more dangerous prisons!

Miserable and (therefore) Rude!

tree lake ithaca

It feels bad when someone is rude to us. We feel hurt and offended. This person yells at us or gives us a dirty look and we think, how ugly he or she is, how insensitive.

Try to remember the last time you yourself were rude to someone. May be you felt bad afterwards, and that’s a good sign that deep down you’re not comfortable making others uncomfortable! But I especially want you to remember how you felt while in the action. You probably were angry; that person got on your nerves, someone did something that made you feel awful, and you gave them back something just as awful. Someone did something which you felt was stupid or inappropriate, and you slapped them with a dirty look in return, and may be you added a hurtful word that would let them realise how stupid or how badly they acted. You took your revenge!

Try to remember a time when you were feeling so happy and optimistic. How easy was it to smile in peoples’ faces, to act kindly and gently with mere strangers when you were full of energy and happiness? Couldn’t be easier, right?

Now compare your state in the two situations! Which one would you rather have more of? Which one would you have most often in your life?

A rude person is a person in crisis! When someone is suffering, what they need most is help, not judgment. We know the action is bad enough, and we should know just as well that the doer is in trouble! When someone is rude to you, just think how miserable they are! Don’t focus on your hurt, and you won’t feel bad or hurt. This is not just idealistic kindness, it’s good for you! When you have compassion for the person who hurts you, you shift from feeling bad, offended and hurt, to feeling compassionate towards the suffering of that rude human soul. You move yourself from a position of weakness, inferiority and anger to a position of power and positivity.

Our actions are just a reflection and an extension of the state of our inner world. We’re rude when it’s dark in; we’re happy and gentle and forgiving when it’s light and bright inside!

We get hurt to the degree of our vulnerability. That’s true of our immune system just as it is true of our emotions and thoughts.

Everyone gives help to the degree of their capabilities, their power. Only the powerful can be in a position of helping. The more power you have, the more help you can give. And the more compassion you can feel towards the darkness and suffering of those who hurt you.

We Are All Billionaires!

Woods trail 2

My income is no greater than my expenses. I’m in debt. I am not rich. Am I poor?

An accountant can calculate our net worth accurately. But none but us can calculate our comprehensive net worth, our real life wealth.

See, wealth is not only monetary. We often overlook other assets in our living account balance. Our “income” is not only the money that we make.

If we’re healthy, we’re wealthier than the sick in terms of health.

Would you lose your eyesight and get $10 million instead?

I wouldn’t, which means I have a quality that is much more expensive than the ten million!

Would you go to prison for 5 years and get a million dollars for it?

I wouldn’t go to prison even for one year for a million dollars. Therefore, every year of life that I live free is worth more than a million dollars, only it terms of freedom!

Every good friend, every brother and sister and parent adds up to our wealth. Would you trade your sister for a million bucks? If not, that means you have what is worth more than this very sum of money. How about a loving spouse, would you trade her or him for 2 million? If not, then you have something more precious than millions of dollars!

Next time you see this expensive car driving by and you say to yourself, “God, why can’t I afford such a car!”, ask yourself if you would take the car and lose your legs or your hands! If not, you have something more precious than the car, you’re already rich!

Or when you pass by that glorious house and sadly wonder why they can afford such a house and you don’t, ask yourself if you would take the house and get a terminal and painful cancer!

Would you trade your intellect for a billion dollars? Get the billion and go with a blank mind? I damn wouldn’t, even for a trillion dollars. We have in our little and fragile heads something more precious than a trillion dollars! How incredibly rich!

If we think of the monetary worth of all our assets that we overlook we will never feel that we’re in financial trouble. We’ll see the abundance that overwhelms us. And as the wisdom goes, we get more of what we focus on. If we feel rich, without money, the money will end up coming too.

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