Posts Tagged ‘mahatma gandhi’

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. ~Gustave Flaubert

Welcome back to my journey towards Seeking My Own Path to Simchah (Happiness):  My Own Personal Happiness Project.

Writing allows me the space to cultivate ideas. Through writing, I hope to challenge others as well as myself to grapple with ideas and seek the answers to questions that we sometimes don’t even know we have. For the next two to three weeks, I will be sharing 11 or more commandments or guidelines that I am developing for myself in my journey to simchah.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas as I openly work towards growing into an even happier human being.

Simchah (happiness) is a beautiful emotion.  Personally I perceive it as being an ecstatic emotion that is somewhat beyond what I have been known to feel. There have been moments of joy, but I am seeking more.  Here is where I tell those that know me personally to stop feeling melancholy for me.  OK? I am a really content person overall: I love life and love living in it.  At the same time, I am on a journey to actively seek what I think might be a higher level of contentment; I am seeking inner simchah, a more enduring sensation than contentment, maybe even more contagious too.

Over six weeks ago, I had planned to do a 13 part series called, “Seeking My Own Path to Simchah (Happiness): My Own Personal Happiness Project”.  The first two parts of the series are:

Now I have decided that although I am extraordinarily busy, I am absolutely ready to continue this journey that was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.

Moving forward – Commandment 2: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Wow, this theme seems to come up in my life again and again.  Even last night I mentioned this commandment in my last blog.  Little did I know it was a recurring theme in my life.

About 8 plus years ago I changed my first and last name.  My first name is now Chava and it essentially means life.  I love life; I am alive.  I feel that gift each and every day.  My last name is now Gal-Or, meaning wave of light.  I gave myself that name for two simple reasons:

  1. I wanted to acknowledge the light that exists in others and in most situations.  (That is how I made it through tremendous darkness within my childhood and in the years my son was ill.)
  2. I always want to remember the light within me.

For me, living in this world means that I need to consciously be engaged in how I connect with the world.  While I feel compelled to navigate the world by considering my footprint in every way; I also find myself considering how I can share what I know.  My goal is never to make someone feel bad, but it is important that folks make conscious decisions when they can.  Perhaps they will consider new realities or share what they know if I am making an incorrect assumption based on incorrect information.  In the end, we all benefit.

‘Be the change you want to see in the world” means that I need to live consciously and treat others with kindness and love even when challenges exist.  Sometimes it means that I need to walk away when the space that I am standing is no longer sacred and when I stop being able to be the person I think I should be.  Admitting it is time to move forward is an extension of living with integrity and therefore taking one more step so that I can “be the change. . . .”

Here is just a small list of what our family does to be the change:

  • buy fair-trade chocolate.  The chocolate industry utilizes child slave labor at every turn.
  • use environmentally friendly products and make our own cleansers.
  • use an electric lawn mower instead of gas.  We would love to find a manual lawn mower next.
  • try to send thoughtful cards to people.
  • purchase and consume organics.
  • limit our trash as we can. (moving was not good for us in this department, working on improving again)
  • support businesses that have good business practices.
  • refrain from using businesses that do not share our values.
  • refrain from purchasing gas at Chevron, BP, Exxon, Shell, Mobile.  Trying to figure out who might be good.  Any ideas?
  • remember the workers.  We always try to tip for service rendered even when it isn’t the norm.
  • are always kind to strangers and people we meet wherever we go.
  • do not purchase anything made in China unless it is used or recycled.
  • actively pursue human rights in any way we can.  We actively do our part for Palestinians, folks in Darfur, workers in China, immigrant workers, etc.  Sadly, the list goes on and on.

We have much to learn, but with each new piece of information we try to incorporate the knowledge so that we can be conscious consumers and human beings.  Change in the world begins with each individual actively doing his or her part (large and small).  If each of us made a difference in some small way, our collective consciousness would grow.

My second commandment is that I need to be the change I want to see in the world.  I need to remember that with each step I take.  Complacency can never become a part of who I am.

With each smile, with each small step, I can be the change I want to see in the world.  Can you?


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Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Forty-five years into my life, I am still learning that when I honor my soul and take care of myself that everything works out a little more easily.  Those that know me know that I am intense, but I am also fun loving and full of life.  That means that I have to navigate the world with the spirit that fills me.  Only when I embrace those realities fully am I able to maintain inner peace.   Finding the integrity to be fully present in the tough times allows me to better celebrate the gifts that exist in both the challenges and the gifts of daily life.

Wow, what a week.  I am feeling so filled with gratitude for how the universe has worked for me this week.  Nearly every interaction has given me insight and forced me to take stock.  An Aikido master inspired me, as did a wasp and bed bugs too.  Colleagues rallied around me and I heard some sweet comments from lay leaders.  I was blown away by the love and respect I felt for who I am as an educator and a person.  I also took the time to take care of myself and trust the process. Finally, I mended some fences and allowed my voice to be strong, but not unkind in each interaction.

I also had wonderful moments in which I was able to be present for some of my beloved friends who were celebrating life or working through some of life’s tough stuff.  I was also privy to be trusted; people shared things with me that they weren’t ready to let out into their smaller or larger world.  I feel honored.

Not every interaction felt comfortable, but every interaction felt grounded and spiritually right. Even motherhood worked nearly every moment.  I am so blessed.  Life might not be simple, but it is full of empowering moments that continue to propel me forward.

With each passing day, this week has touched me deeply.

Some of the highlights are:

  • Waking up from anesthesia after a colonoscopy was peaceful; I felt like angels were surrounding me.  The beautiful energy surrounded me gave me such inner peace.  Although I was quite traumatized by the act of being sedated and feeling alone in this time of my life, I knew that I would go through the procedure easily and that anesthesia would not hurt me this time.  Normally, I wake up extremely ill; not this time!!!  I believed all would be OK and it was!!!
  • When I dealt with challenging conversations, I remained grounded and internally peaceful.  The outcomes are not necessarily going to be easy to maneuver, but at least I spoke with the love and kindness that is part of what I hope to be my essence.
  • Our lawn got mowed and I started the process of caring for it a little bit better.  A few folks gave me simple advice and I was able to welcome the thorns that greeted me because I can’t find work gloves and I didn’t want to purchase new ones without better looking.  My small lawn looks better and I know a little more now than I knew when I started dealing with the thorns, vines, and weeds.
  • I met a wonderful person who I believe will become an ally in helping me to create a retreat for healing and transformation from childhood trauma.  In the one-hour conversation, I learned so much about how our bodies intuitively handle life’s experiences.  The conversation carried me through the day and into the evening when I met a wasp.
  • While leading Friday night services at the synagogue that I work, I found a wasp on my music stand.  At first, I became really anxious which is how I handle bees/wasps and spiders I don’t recognize.  And then I took a deep breath and escorted the wasp and music stand outside so that the wasp could live his/her life out fully.
  • Now for the bed bugs, Michael was certain that I brought bed bugs to visit his home in North Carolina and that I had somehow managed to invite them into Aryeh’s bed where he was eaten alive one night.   Instead of panicking and attempting to share this information with the many people I visited over the summer, I took a deep breath and said that we would handle what ever we had to handle after the bed bugs were confirmed by a reputable service/person. Bottom-line is that there are funky bugs down south and Aryeh was not bitten by bed bugs. Yippee!!!!

As this week ended and the new week began, I was able to celebrate something as simple as light.  After Shabbat I went to the local hardware store and purchased new light bulbs.  I now have a new, fantastic, and bright Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulb; I had been unhappy with the lightening in the lamp next to bed for about three years, but I thought I had to deal with what I had for environmental reasons. I was wrong! Last night I purchased a new CFL when the old one burned out and now I can really read my books before I crash for the night.  Life is really good!

Reality is simple; we live it daily.  And life can be daunting and full; it can also be filled with gifts at every turn.  The question is how do you walk through life and find those gifts.

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.~Thich Nhat Hahn

Even as we do the hard work of living, may we each be blessed to find the gifts at every turn.

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