My father lived to age 95. He was often asked for his advice on living a long and good life. Here are a few nuggets of the beautiful wisdom I garnered from the things my father taught me and lived.
The most frequent response I heard from my father in response to the question about living a healthy, long life was “Be positive.” What does that mean? Respond to every situation in life looking for the good. Look for the good in others and speak to that. Looking on the bright side will change your physiology and actually promotes health. So, backed by science, a good key to a long, healthy life is to be positive.
What ever else was happening around him, my father tried to respond with patience and kindness. My father was born in New York in 1915. When he was a little boy, he was swinging his feet while sitting on a bench and the old man sitting next to him on the bench snapped at him to sit still and stop banging on the bench. At that moment, as a little boy, he put himself on a trajectory of kindness. He decided right there to be nice. Being nice will always serve. Some may mistake kindness for weakness. Be kind anyway.
My father took vitamins and ate well. He also ate cookies regularly. He never overindulged, just a couple at a time. If he drank alcohol, it was one shot. The great Rambam was a doctor and a sage. He teaches moderation. My father walked the walk: Be moderate: enjoy what life has to offer without over doing.
After moving away from my parents’ home, whenever I came to visit my father would check to make sure my windshields were clean. He’d clean them if they weren’t. He taught me: keep your windows and the headlights of your car clean too; you’ll have better visibility. It’s safer to drive when you can see clearly. It’s a great metaphor for all of life. Keep your own perspective clear and you’ll see what’s happening around you more clearly.
Each one of those tips has served me well. I share them with you today, the anniversary of his passing, to lift our spirits a little bit, and in so doing, honor his memory.
What is the secret to happiness? It's not really that complicated.
Step into gratitude.
I just heard the quote, "If you're grateful for everything, you're grateful for nothing," and that means get detailed with your gratitude. I just took a workshop that taught us to be very detailed with gratitude. How detailed? Well, think of something you're grateful for. Do you love to paint? How about the hairs of smallest brush you have or the color carmine red? Are you grateful for summer? Well, how about gratitude for the leaves of your favorite shade tree, or the pulp in lemons?
Are you starting to get the idea? So here's the thing: You have to practice gratitude every day; really do it. Personally I usually start each morning with a very short prayer of gratitude for coming back into the world. I like to go to sleep listing things I'm grateful for as I fall asleep. When I'm really feeling down, I like to play what I call "The Gratitude Game" with my husband or a friend. Take turns listing things you're grateful for.
If you find it hard to think about what you might be grateful for, then this is really the right exercise for you. Think about the sparkle on the greeting card you got. Think about the knobs on the drawers that make them easy to open. Think about the filter on your faucet so you don't get sand in your water.
Still not sure? Experiment with this daily for a month and I guarantee your life and attitude will change for the better. You will feel better and happier. Start now.
There are a number of things in life that you might want to release:
I'm exhausted just thinking about this partial list of possibilities. Right now is a great time to "change" your way of doing things if you need to let go of the old crap and bring in more of what you really love.
What ever "it" is that you want to get over, there are things you can do to let go. The question is, do you really want to "get over it"? Do you really want to let it go? Sometimes there is an aspect inside of each of us that is actually served by holding on. Could it be that you just know what "it" is and letting "it" go means you have to go into new territory?
You could just keep going until you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Probably you've gotten over disappointments or upset in your past. There is probably something in your life that you can look back on and not feel so upset thinking about it. So you know it's possible.
Now, you just have to decide that you want to let go and the opportunity to release will show up. Maybe this blog post is just that for you! So if you're really ready experiment with these few tips and see what happens.
Let it flow, then let it go, also called free-form writing or automatic writing. Put all the upset onto a piece of paper; then destroy the paper. (This is best if done by hand.) Don't read it, just destroy it. Believe me when I tell you that if you keep it and later find it, all the upset can come flooding back. If you destroy it, you may actually forget the details of your upset!
Steep yourself in the new thought. That means that you surround yourself in an environment that squeezes out the old, unwanted thoughts or even emotions. I keep ideas in the back of my mind to go to when I find myself thinking things I don't want to think. You can do this with uplifting music (or even one song that you can go to), a favorite food (someone I know uses sushi), or pictures you cut out of a magazine. Try taking photos of the things that make you the happiest in your daily life, then print them and surround yourself with what you love.
Ask. Who are you asking? Ask the highest aspect of your soul, or ask God; ask your angels (you do know that everyone, everyone, has angels around all the time, right?). What are you asking? Ask for Divine assistance in releasing what needs to be released. Ask to forget the things that upset you. Memories can and often do fade with age. Some of those memories are worth forgetting.
Declare that you are releasing, letting go, or getting over it. Until it is real because it will become your new reality if you really want it to. Seriously.
This doesn't necessarily all happen at once. It can, but if it doesn't, know that the movement into being free from "it" is happening step by sweet step.
You can do this!
Do something right now (baby steps!!) while you're thinking of it.
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What do you do if those old, familiar, dark thoughts threaten to haunt you by popping into your mind? What if those cruddy, crusty thoughts pop into your head more than you even want? What if, worst of all, you don't even know of another way to be? If you've never learned how to work with your thought environment, here is a game plan.
Flood your mind with the kind of thoughts you want. What are the thoughts you really want swimming in your awareness? Do you want thoughts that are positive? Then PLAN for the positive thoughts you want.
Positive landslides anchor new notions.
P = Positive
L = Landslides
A = Anchor
N = New Notions
Take the time right now to plan the new thoughts that you want to invite and promote into your mind. That means that the next time you catch yourself thinking negatively, you jump on the chance to flood your mind with the positive thoughts.
One of the thoughts I personally use is the attitude of gratitude. It's my first "go to" thought process when I feel stuck or down. But don't stop there.
You can do this!
Live the extraordinary life you deserve.
Aunt Laya inspires and encourages you to live the life you want for yourself! She'll tell you the truth, even when it's not always so easy to hear so that you can learn to handle the hard stuff of life and be your best, happiest self. Always with love and caring.