Embracing the totality of your experience

a red "angel" rubber duck and black "devil" rubber duck facing each other

“You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving-kindness for yourself.” ~Pema Chödrön

It’s so tempting to try to reject the difficult parts of ourselves, our lives, and our experiences, but learning to embrace all of who we are and what we experience (even as we may work to change it) is a much more self-compassionate way of being that leads to wholeness rather than living in constant rejection of parts of our reality.

The ripples of kindness

drop of water creating ripples in larger body of water

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” ~Scott Adams

We so often think of kindness as being too small a thing to make a difference, but acts of kindness have ripples that can flow outward to have a much larger impact than we can imagine. If you want to make the world a better place, kindness to all you meet is a very good way to start!

The real questions

tree with heart scar in trunk against snowy background

“Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.” ~Henri Nouwen

I tend to measure my days by how much I crossed off my to do list. I set the value on the day’s accomplishments by the answers to questions like:

  • Did I get all of today’s orders packed up to ship tomorrow?
  • Did I make finish enough new pieces to replenish my inventory?
  • Did I answer all of my customers’ questions?
  • Did I get all of the newly completed pieces fully photographed and written up to add to the shop?
  • Did I finish all of my errands and household chores for today?
  • Did I finish my blog post/social media posting/weekly email for tomorrow?

I’m sure you have your own list that measures your day (consciously or unconsciously). I have to remind myself over and over again that none of the questions on that list really matter in the long run.

Henri Nouwen brings us back to the real questions that matter. It all comes down to whether I showed love to others, to my world, to myself, to the Divine.

When you consider the real questions as the measure of your day instead of your to-do list, how does that change the way you approach your day?

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The most significant affirmation we can offer

woman smelling a bouquet of flowers

“To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer.” ~Henri Nouwen

We often underestimate the impact that our words have on those around us, and yet our words have incredible power to do good or ill.

When we choose to use our words to bless others, we offer them a powerful mix of encouragement and support wrapped in a prayer for their well-being. Given how powerful this use of words can be, it’s sad how seldom we choose to engage in this practice.

It can feel a bit awkward at first, as anything new does, but it’s a relatively easy habit to pick up. Next time you find yourself about to offer good wishes that start with “I hope you …” (… feel better, … have a good day, … get the result you want), rephrase it to “May you …” (… feel better, … have a good day, … get the result you want) and watch their face brighten as the blessing lands.

You just might be surprised at how much it means to them … and just how good it feels to offer. It’s such a small habit to develop, and it has such powerfully positive results. Try it for yourself!

May you find great joy in the practice of offering blessings to those around you this coming week!