Friday, August 29, 2014

Contentment: The Secret Sauce of Life

My dictionary offers a definition of content as having or showing no desire for something more or different. Hmm…Is that an accurate enough definition? I say no.

How content do you feel right now? How contented would you say most of the people you know are right now? How many truly contented people do you know? Maybe it takes more than one hand for you to count them on, but possibly not. So, the next question would have to be: what’s up with that; why is true contentment as rare as it is? To be contented is never to be confused with or mistaken as being resigned (reconciled) or acquiescent, which means to consent quietly without protest and without enthusiasm. So, what does it or might it mean to be content?

G. K. Chesterson wrote: “True contentment is a real, even an active, virtue—not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it, it ought to mean appreciating all there is in such a situation.” I think it’s safe to say that Chesterson would agree with me about the dictionary definition: it doesn’t go far enough, because you can certainly be content and still desire, go for, and attain improvement simultaneously.

Contentment is a form of appreciation. Appreciation is the most “attractive” or magnetic energy you can emit to the Universe’s Reflected Back to You Manifestation Center. (“If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough.”) One reason contentment is so rare is that we are bombarded with messages from all directions about what we should be, do, and have. Consider commercials: what is the main message of many if not most of them? “If you don’t have this, look like this, have access to this”—whatever “this” is they want to sell you on, “then you’re less than WE, and anyone else who goes along with us, think you should be; and you should believe you’re less too.” Yes, “they” sell a number of products and services that do benefit us and or meet a specific need, but what they mostly hook us into buying whatever they’re selling with, or longing to do so or be able to, is…envy.

If we use Chesterson’s attic premise, you can certainly want and choose to live elsewhere, but you don’t have to choose to be miserable until you move. It’s the same for anything. And, no amount of envy of what others have will provide a remedy, just more misery. The envy “they” (and “they” are a large and varied group) want you to buy into can lead to avarice, another form of misery; and “they” pretty it up by calling it economic opportunity: There’s a difference. “Flashy things” can be quite nice, but if you crave them because you believe you’ll feel you’re more or somehow whole once you have them, you affirm lack—not just of stuff but in Self; and that is the energy you emit and therefore attract with. If you chase flashy things for the same reason, you take detours from your true path. If the absence of them or even the having of them torments you in any way, your contentment is being stolen from you—by you.

How much is really enough for you? Who defines this for you? If it isn’t you and only you defining this, someone else is driving your life and contentment bus. I’m not saying no one needs a mansion, but how much house do most people really need? Who do they need it for? I’m not picking on houses—they are just an easy reference for this purpose. This applies to anything and everything that we convince ourselves that we need in order to be content, when we really don’t need it, especially if having it creates headaches rather than true contentment. What’s often happening in such situations is we want to end the discontent our envy causes in us; and for some, create envy in others about what we have—because we are not content within ourselves with ourselves. Contentment, like happiness, is an inner job and choice.

Contentment based in appreciation is a creative energy. Getting what’s there for you out of any circumstance you’re in takes creativity. If you’re bored with your life or bored in any particular moment, you are not contented, nor are you exercising your inherent creativity. And if you go in the opposite direction of contentment, you may find yourself in Greedland, or even Slothland—the land of the idle who complain but make no creative effort to create positive shift. Slothland is not the same as having moments or periods of repose, when you repossess any mental, physical, or emotional energy you’ve expended, in order to rebalance peace of mind and inner harmony, or recharge your inner batteries or heal.

Contentment leads to kindness and allows us to maximize moments and experiences because true contentment does not entertain envy. It understands that if something is truly needed or desired, there are creative, constructive, productive ways to accomplish or attain whatever is desired, from both the inner and outer levels. Contentment understands that mutually-beneficial is always and evermore a better, more desirable path and result; whereas envy is about one-upmanship, an ultimately lonely, usually frustrating road to travel or destination to stay in, even if there are others around you in that “club.” Admiration inspires, ignites, and creates; envy destroys and depletes.

I think true contentment feels like this favorite affirmation of mine: It’s not about what you can get from the flow, but that you get into the flow. (I get a delicious shiver every time I feel the Truth of that statement.) True contentment reflects the relationship we have with ourselves and especially with Source. It reflects the trust we have in ourselves and the One Source of all our strength, support, and supply as well as what that union can produce. Inner peace and serenity based on this trust is true contentment, no matter what is going on or isn’t in a moment in time.

We can be content and continue to create and improve as we go; we can be content with and while in this process. In this way, contentment is the secret sauce that makes life like a meal offered in courses, where each course is given the time and attention to be savored. Contentment born out of genuine appreciation adds flavor, texture, and richness to our life experience. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.                
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How Perfect Do You Believe You Have to Be?

Did anyone ever tell you, “If you’re not going to or can’t do it right, don’t do it at all”? That “advice” can be appropriate at times, but the rest of the time, it sets you up for self-sabotage and lack, actual or perceived.

Obviously, there are times when you hope that’s the motto of a person, and you expect them to abide by it, such as someone performing surgery or a medical procedure, or a hairdresser who’s to cut, color, or perm your hair. You want them to get it right, no question about it. So, excluding any specific, significant actions when this statement should apply, we’re left to consider how it applies to the rest of our experiences and actions. How does that statement work for those? Not always for our benefit, that’s for certain. Who can actually say what the absolute “right” way is in some instances or circumstances? The truth is that there isn’t always just one right way to do some things, but you can believe there is and flummox yourself (and others) with this belief. 

For example, I learned about oil pulling and decided to give it a try. (I like it, so still do it.) If you’re not familiar with this medicinal technique, you can look it up online; there are sites devoted to its benefits. But so you know enough about why the statement applies here, I’ll give a brief explanation. You put a teaspoon or so of coconut oil (or one of the other recommended oils) into your mouth upon waking, let it melt, and swish it around for 20 minutes then dispose of it properly. I told a friend about it and she was interested, as well.

When I spoke with her about this at a later time, she told me that it didn’t work for her to do oil pulling in the morning so she couldn’t do it. The way she explained this came across as her really wanting to do it, but she couldn’t do it the way it’s supposed to be done. I said, “Do it later in the day.” She was surprised at the idea, and thanked me for giving her permission to do this—“permission” was the word she used. We have the “fact” of authority figures heaped on us as children and teens. As adults, we are our own, best authority, or should be.

The fact is this: I didn’t give her permission; I suggested an alternate option. If she chose the option, she gave herself permission. Just as one blogger said if you can only do 10 minutes in the morning, do it and do 10 minutes in the afternoon to get the 20 minutes in. Sometimes, I have only 15 minutes, so do that. Better some benefit than none. There are some prescription medications that you have to adhere to a schedule about, and if you miss one, you have to do specific things—this isn’t like that. Many things are not like that. But when you’ve had “If you’re not going to or can’t do it right, don’t do it at all” drilled into you, as I know my friend (and many of us) had, the moment you can’t do something precisely as is recommended or is considered optimal, you might, as she did, believe that means you can’t or shouldn’t do whatever it is or some modification of it at all. Bah! Humbug!

I’ve had to modify my life in some measure, for a specific reason. And there have been times when an expert said or wrote that to accomplish a desired outcome, people (I) had or have to do XYZ in a specific way—and that way didn’t or doesn’t work for me. What to do, what to do? It’s empowering to relax the mind, ask Source for guidance, receive it, act on it, and get desired results. It’s empowering to create something that is appropriate for you and creates desired results. That’s how my first book got written after struggling with how to do it for two years. I stopped taking unproductive action (including suggestions of experts) and asked Source to show me the way. I halted every thought and action my ego-aspect suggested about the book (it had already used two years of my time and energy) and affirmed that I would KNOW, without doubt, the right way when it came to me. It took two months (I had to relax and release), but when the “how” came, it flowed into and through me, and the book was written in two months, writing for 30-45 minutes in the morning, 5 days a week.

Do what you can as best as you can with anything that doesn’t require the skill of a surgeon or the dosage of a medication or the precision of a soufflĂ©. Get whatever benefits you can get by doing what you can do, when you can do it. Don’t let that “do it right or don’t do it at all” statement and or the people who abide by it for every single action act as party-poopers in and on your life. Let “Necessity is the mother of invention” be your motto. Be creative. Come up with options that work for you.

In the greater scheme of life, seldom is there only one absolute way to do some things. The arts demonstrate this all the time. There is no one way to paint, sculpt, compose, sing, play an instrument, dance, write, and so forth, about any creative endeavor. There are as many ways as there are individuals who do them. There may be aspects such creations have in common with their similar modes of expression and some basic rules that apply to each, but something unique to each creative person will emerge. At least, that’s what is desired by the individuals and those who appreciate their works and the arts.

When you let that “do it right or don’t do it at all” statement lead you by the nose about everything, you exist in restriction and lack. You block your creativity and abundance. Don’t do that. What works for one person may not work for you—and that’s OKAY! Find what works for you in every area, phase, and season of your life. It’s the only way to be and feel authentic. It’s the only way to discover and experience your unique expression and or offer it to others. Appropriate-for-you options lead you to learn or discover something you otherwise might not have or to create something you otherwise might not have, something that may benefit others as well as you. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.               
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

You are welcome to use this article in your newsletter or on your blog/website as long as you use my complete bio with it.

Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at

Friday, August 8, 2014

Something Wonderful Happens Today!

Emma Curtis Hopkins’ words may not be easy to hear and digest, but they are on point: “The world in which we live is the exact record of our thoughts. If we do not like the world we live in, then we do not like our thoughts.” I’m sure some are ready to disagree with that.

"It never stops," a young woman once said to me after listing situations that were happening in her life and her family's. I wished it were possible to download some of my inner lessons to her consciousness so she wouldn't exist mired in negative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. But, the fact is that each of us has to determine and develop our own inner guidance system that helps us maneuver our way through challenges and life. Until such statements as "It never stops" and others she may practice and dwell on no longer “serve” her (and she stops feeding them), her life is going to feel like, and likely be like, a constant struggle—at least, at the inner level, if not the outer.

We all have moments when we feel stuck in such an inner place; but thankfully, we can emerge eventually—if that’s our true choice. I’ve certainly had my share of these. So, I know what it’s like. And I know how easy it is to move into that space and not realize you’ve taken up residence there. It’s like getting so used to your own clutter that’s accumulated over time that you don’t have the same awareness of it as others might. Then one day, you look around and say, “What am I doing? This has got to be uncluttered. I can hardly think because of all this mess.” And, you’re right. Internal or external, clutter is clutter. Sometimes it’s clutter, sometimes it’s garbage. And when it comes to Law of Attraction, the same adage that applies to computers fits: Garbage in, garbage out.

James Allen, who wrote As A Man Thinketh, stated, "No situation can be difficult of itself; it is the lack of insight into its intricacies, and the want of wisdom in dealing with it, which give rise to the difficulty." John Homer Miller said, "Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens." My father offered wisdom about this when he told me it isn't about how we solve situations in life that's most important, because there will be some we aren't able to solve—they resolve themselves or time resolves them. He said what is important is how we manage ourselves in the midst of challenges.

One of our greatest gifts as humans is our ability to have emotions and feelings. We need to honor these because they offer so much to us as forms of inner communication that can lead us to learn more about ourselves and strengthen the foundation of who we are as individuals. What we need to remember is not to get too comfortable in a woe-is-me mental attitude. We are meant to take time needed to feel what we feel, but then we can aim to take ourselves to the next level so we can move forward or upward into improved inner and outer circumstances and experiences. A woe-is-me attitude is the same as physical clutter: you don’t know what you really have or can do until you clear what doesn’t belong there from the space.

Some of the experiences the young woman spoke of were ones she could do nothing about personally. Generally, what rocks our boats when we face certain situations is that we realize we are not in total control of everything that happens in life. But, we are participants in what happens during and afterward. We can exercise control over ourselves. We can, as Allen says, look for insights and wisdom. We can, as Hopkins says, consider which thoughts of ours create the inner and outer worlds we do not like and which create the worlds we do; and we should keep in mind another part of her comment: “Exaltation is a magnet for all good things of the universe to hasten to you.”

Exaltation is another word for deeply-felt appreciation for the Truth about Source and what Source has provided for us, which I comment more on in an upcoming paragraph. When we consider circumstances as insurmountable, we ignore the creative power of the One Source of Infinite Love and every natural law put into place by Source to support our innate personal power through our connection with Source and all in existence. As the old saying goes, “Can’t never could.” Can starts inside of us, always.

An unknown source said, "Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day." Or, you might say this: Something wonderful happens today. This isn't a wish-it-were-so phrase, expect it. Just be open to the something wonderful being whatever it will be. It may be spectacular or you may have to look for its small glint among the day’s details that require your attention. It may be a diamond or one flake of glitter, but know it's there. You might also practice what the elusive, wise Anonymous posed: "Ask yourself this question: Is my attitude worth catching?"

Improved circumstances are not about Source and life doing things differently so you can respond and feel better, but about you being different in a way that lets Source and life respond to you—match your mental attitude—in the way you prefer. This mirror-image attracting process was set up by Source in the way it was for a purpose. I can almost hear Source saying, “Here’s everything you need. What you do with it is your choice. You got da power! I made sure of it.” It helps to keep in mind that what we give, we receive, whether tangible or thought-forms.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: It’s not about what you can get from the flow, but that you get into the flow. However, I add that you are not to let the ego-aspect taunt you with jibes that say you’re supposed to be in flow all the time or you’re a failure. It’s more important that you discover what puts you back into the flow, whenever you have a need to do this.

Your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and words have all to do with your getting into the flow or watching it pass by you while you stand at the edge of it, waiting for something to jump out and into your arms. That may happen (it does), but it’s best if you jump into the flow—if you pop out, pop back in as soon as you can. The first jump you make is with your mental attitude: Something wonderful happens today, and it never stops. Will you look for and appreciate what sparkles in your life? Will you look for and appreciate the Truth of Source and trust it with absolute faith (faith is the absence of doubt)? It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.              
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer

Friday, August 1, 2014

How Do We Release the Past?

How often we hear that it’s important and freeing to release the past. But, how exactly do we do that? If doing this hasn’t been easy for you, maybe this will help.

I’ve recently written about thoughts that have come to me from Catherine Ponder’s book, The Secret to Unlimited Prosperity, which as I stated before, isn’t solely about prosperity. This is because prosperity is not just about money; it’s about health, well-being, personal and professional relationships, success, and more. This means that thoughts of lack about any one of these will more than likely affect one or more of the others, as well as the big picture of your life. It’s just like when you’re unwell or tired: you aren’t as proficient and efficient as when you’re well and rested. Where do thoughts of lack originate from? Only one place that I can think of: the past. For a better now and future, you must stop living in and based on the past, and begin to live where and when you are: now.

I’ve included segments from Ponder’s book in previous writings, but a few of them are so significant to releasing the past, I’m going to provide them again according to how I add personal meaning to them. Ponder stated that those who have released the past and have accepted mentally the possibility of good are those who get results. First of all, that’s like the chicken and the egg to me. Do you first release the past so that you can mentally accept the possibility of good or does this happen the other way around? Perhaps they happen in gradual measure simultaneously. Doing one should certainly result in the other, whichever order they happen in; maybe you bounce back and forth between the two. However, this is not something to focus on; I just find it interesting to give it a glimpse. It’s more important to do both, no matter the order or process.

Ponder asked, “Are you so attached to old patterns of living that you cannot get along comfortably without them? Are you emotionally attached to lack and illness?” If we hang on to the past and or thoughts of lack in any area of our life that happened or originated in the past, we are attached to that way of thinking, like it or not. Well, ouch. So, perhaps say instead, “I now attach myself to improved circumstances and thoughts about this. I now attach myself to abundance, prosperity, and well-being and thoughts about this. I am no longer hypnotized by appearances, especially from the past. I now mentally accept better circumstances as mine and my right.”

She also asked (and here, I add some words of my own), If you truly want abundance, prosperity, and well-being, do you still gain satisfaction from self-pity over your health, well-being, and finances? You must give up something to make way for health, well-being, and prosperity—probably self-pity and bitterness; probably the belief that you have had a hard time. Again: ouch. Let’s face it: There will be times when we feel sorry for ourselves, but that’s different than taking up residence in self-pity land. And, okay, I can hear, and I completely understand from my own experiences, anyone grousing about that last part she said. What the hell does she mean by calling the fact of a hard time or times in the past a belief?! One contemporary premise says you can change your perception about anything (reframe). This is true, but I offer there’s something else involved. I’ll get to that.

We know that we can’t actually release the past—because it no longer exists! Yes, in some instances, there may be physical scars from one or more events that happened in the past, but they are, usually, healed as much as they’ll ever be, unless they’re still in the healing stage. So, we’re really looking at emotional scars. But what is an emotional scar? It can’t be seen. We can’t take medication for an emotional scar (meds may do some things about emotions or mood, but not what we’re ultimately looking for which is natural freedom from their chokehold on us). We can’t physically find emotional scars so that we can put a balm on them; so the only place an emotional scar exists is in our memory.

What is memory? Let’s consider the fact that every single thing you’ve ever seen, heard, tasted, smelled, felt, sensed, and experienced is even now holding a space in your mind’s library called Memory. This means to experience a memory, you or an outside trigger has to activate it, like pulling up a song on an iPod. So, to experience a memory, you have to deliberately bring to mind or continue to think, once a thought arises, about something that’s not happening now or has happened yet, but that has already happened. Some emotional scars may require time and even therapy to assist with healing; but eventually, to be free of their effects (not their memory), we have to alter how we think about them and how often. Do we reflect on them at times or do we allow them to control us?

Practice a thought often enough or with enough emotional attachment and it becomes a belief. A belief is nothing more than a thought you abide by and practice. No thought, no belief. Simply put, you can’t have a belief without a thought that supports or nurtures it: Ponder used the correct word. I know you already know all of this; but it takes more than realizing it if you’re to release the past: this has to be put into practice.

Now, the ego-aspect may have a problem with all of this because ego tends toward black-and-white thinking, such as, “If I’m to release the past, then that means I have to act as if or somehow convince myself that what happened never happened or wasn’t as bad as I’ve thought.” See what I mean? That’s a totally unrealistic approach and mindset (spiritual comprehension and resolution can shift perspective about something that happened, but not ego-aspect); yet, the ego-aspect will try to take us into that contradictory experience. And if we don’t go there, the ego-aspect will take us on a guilt-trip instead. 

The only things about this that you can actually release are your thoughts in the present about the past. And, in fact, you don’t release them: you just don’t entertain them when they come up, and they will. Nor do you dredge them up on purpose. Sure, if a thought about something from the past rises to the surface, maybe you should give it a look, maybe ask questions about this. Maybe there’s a significant message there that’s to help you right now or in the future. But maybe it’s a neuronal pathway that’s been triggered, and the ego-aspect has slipped an old, scratched album onto the turntable of your mind (any of you reading this too young to know what a turntable is, please look it up on your favorite i-Product).

Negative thoughts about the past do something unpleasant: They cause the body, mind, and emotions to feel as though whatever it is we think about is happening again—right now. Down goes our mood. Down goes our health. Down goes our energy. Down goes our enthusiasm. Down goes our ability to attract more of what we truly desire. Down—We—Go…into a form of mental constipation. What we need to realize is that such thoughts “rob us of today’s happiness,” as Ernest Holmes wrote. Or as author Rebecca L. Norrington asks in her book, RealitySpirituality: The Truth About Happiness, if something detracts from your happiness, why do it? There’s more to it than that, but you get her point. A lot of what detracts from our happiness is self-inflicted.

It’s obvious that the way we release the past so it stops impinging on our present and future experience is to mentally accept that different, better circumstances are possible and our right. Then we entertain those thoughts, and do so from a place of inner serenity, as much as we can, and cease entertaining any opposing thoughts about this (by entertaining, I mean inviting a thought in and feeding it as you would a guest). This never means that we ignore what should be addressed and adjusted. It means we give up the habit or addiction of dwelling on what we’d call the crappy stuff that came before this moment.

If what happened taught you something, that’s terrific. But sitting in a steaming pile of it over and over again without at least growing one flower in its center is a waste of life force and attracts more of the same or worse, AND it causes you to feel bad (reread the parts about attachment to self-pity and being too comfortable in that place). It’s also obvious that we must pay attention to triggers that cause us to travel down rutted roads yet again and, instead, deliberately take the high road. If you’re fully occupied with and committed to traveling the higher road, you’ll be looking ahead to where you’re going, not back at where you’ve been. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.             
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer