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I am a believer in affirmations. I do them regularly. And I feel it when I don’t. But there seems to be some controversy over them. Do they work or not?

It depends on what you’re looking for. Affirmations are positive statements, generally stated in the present tense. “I am beautiful, capable and loveable,” for instance.

Some want to say that repeating affirmations does not make you any more beautiful, capable or loveable. Maybe not.

For me, affirmations help to feel certain things. Vibrate at that level, shall we say. In that way you can, if you’re good and consistent, attract things. And anything repeated enough times has got to change how you see things. That can be extremely powerful!

I cannot, however, attest to being able to manifest things in my life simply by affirming them. But I can say that affirmations make me feel like I can. They keep me going when I’m slipping. Affirmations remind me of what I’m doing and why.

As I Look for Peace as my intention, I wish to actively seek joy.  I’ve been seeking joy lately in the simple things: My work, family and friends, a beautiful day . . .

But too often I find that joy dampened.  Some days the work becomes frustrating, the possibilities dim, and people let me down.  A beautiful day can turn gray and sour in no time.  Seeking joy becomes as fruitless as chasing after  that damned elusive pimpernel.

Stan Gale, in his forthcoming book “A Vine-Ripened Life” tells us that joy cannot be found in the changing circumstances of our lives.  But that we can rejoice even when things are dark.

This got me thinking that I could find joy in everything.  I know that there is always something to feel joyful about – a glimmer of hope, a sliver of light, an undercurrent of gratitude or a seed of faith.  With enough practice I could release my choking grasp on those circumstances that are easy to love.  When I know that I will find joy tomorrow, even if it rains, I can enjoy today without all the tension which drains joy like an uncorked bathtub.

Circumstances will continue to change.  It’s a fact of life.  We will die, things will decompose.  In 250 years, everything that’s here will be gone. There are those who say we all long for something solid we can count on.  But there is no such thing in the life we lead.  Only God is unchanging.

As Dr Gale advises, I will seek joy in God and His love for me.  Find joy in the life He has given me, and in our friendship. And rejoice in that.  For it is available to me every minute of every day.  No matter the weather.

I love simple instructions with a single focus.

This is appealing too because it leaves little room for disappointment.  There are very few situations when you can’t a least look for peace.  In chaos is where you need it the most.

It is very true that you cannot control your environment enough to keep crazy things from happening.  I know.  I’ve tried.  And it never works.  It’s easy to see that Life is Change.  Just because it is peaceful all around me at the moment is no guarantee that it won’t explode later.

If my goal is to always be looking for peace, I pave the way for it.  I have my eyes open (at least my inner eye) for that peaceful spot.

Not easy, I know.  But possible.  Completely within one’s control.   There is always a place of peace available to each and every one of us.  No tools or equipment needed.  No approvals in triplicate.  Merely a choice to find it.

Practice, no doubt, helps.  Going to that place of peace over and over again when things are not erupting madly in front of you, is a good way to practice.  It helps you to remember and become familiar with the path. Surely everyone’s lives are filled with actively popping moments – good and bad.  But you can practice as often as you can.

When the TV is blaring and the kids are shouting and there are places to go and things to do. . .  That’s the time to find a moment to take in a deliberate breath and ask for peace.

I find this an interesting concept.  I believe in intentions.  If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there?  I have also found that life has a way of sweeping me this way and that.  Having intentions helps to stay on track and grounds me in what I have decided to do.

But unlike goals – which tend to be solid and unchangeable – intentions can be more flexible.  You can hold them more lightly.  This was what I intended to do today, but if I don’t or can’t, I can easily shift it to tomorrow, without a lot of bad feelings.

Intentions can change, too. Today I might intend to be open to giving to others. Whereas tomorrow I may not come in contact with many others, so I’ll make my intent to be more trusting.  I might have an intention to get that job.  But if it doesn’t play out the way I wanted, I can have an intention to land another job.

If I hold too tightly to my intentions, I create the potential for disappointment.  If I, instead, hold them more gently, I can use them as a guide for my steps, a reminder of what I wanted to do. But if life changes and it’s not possible, I can allow the intention to change shape, while it’s still in my hand.

Choose the things that delight you.

Why not?  You make your future in the present. The more delight you can infuse into the present, the more delightful your future will be.

Who knows what the future will bring?  Trying to make decisions based on what might happen is futile and frustrating. You can only decide in the present, using the information you have right now.

Don’t be afraid of making the Wrong Choice.  If you don’t like your decision, there’s not much that can’t be changed.  The closer you are to the real truth of what your needs are, today, the better the odds you’ll have of success in your decision. If you chose for your delight, you’ll be choosing well.

You don’t even have to consider your loved ones. What children (or anyone else for that matter) may need can be dealt with in the planning stages. Others will handle any changes you make. Life is change and everyone around you is subject to the shifting of life. After all, your delightful decision is likely to be better than deception and depression. The decision needs only to be based on your needs right now.  What delights you today. What’s truly best for you is best for everyone around you.

Confused about what is best for you? Follow your delightful feelings. It is just that simple: Go for what delights you.

Plans change more often than they play out.  Life is like that.  The weather reflects this.  It’s hard to predict which way the wind will blow.  You don’t always know how the atmospheric conditions will change. Here’s another one of those simple phrases to practice with.

If you throw up your hands and ask, “Now, what?” with a pleading in your voice, you’re not really looking for an answer.  But when you ask it with curiosity, “Now, what?” it becomes a powerful quest.

The act of asking it grounds you in the present moment.  To ask this question, you must first accept what is happening. It comes out of a clear view of how things are now.

This is the Art of Rolling with it. When you roll with it, you welcome whatever’s at your door.  You embrace it and let it show you where to go.

Now, what?  What are you going to do with the current situation?  What are you going to do about what you wanted to do? I find it’s helpful to answer those questions.  If I must do something else right away, I don’t want to forget what gets shoved aside. I like to reschedule it as soon as possible.  Get it replanted so I can be sure it will get done.

When things change, take a breath and ask, “Now, with this new situation, what am I going to do, what do I want to feel?”

As the wind will change a beautiful day, it can change the direction of my day, my week, my hour, my years.  I wish to remain open and bend in the wind without it breaking me.

I understand the concept. It’s about energy and vibration.  If I’m vibrating with love now, I will attract similar vibrations.  If I’m picking at things I don’t care for in my current situation, I’m likely to keep finding things wrong in the next situation.  If I don’t harmonize or vibrate the way I want to feel, I’ll never make it to “there.”  I need to accept the now with the same feeling I would accept what I want.

But, I’ve been wrestling with this for days. I get caught up in thinking that if I love that which I do not choose, it will become my Then. Doesn’t that kinda figure? It feels wrong (or odd) to say I love this the way it is, if I don’t. I’m frankly nervous about giving my thumbs up, if you will, to things I really choose to change. There is no use telling me that things change because sometimes it feels like they don’t. It sure looks like I’m stuck in the same stuff I’ve been trying to change.

Okay, I know that life is always changing  – even if it’s not the way I imagine. I guess what this concept teaches is that it’s about feeling good no matter what and then things will change to meet the new vibration. But how does that work, anyway? Do those good feelings and vibrations transform my life into what I want?  How does life know how to change?  From my Want?  Vision?  The Intention?  The good vibes?  What’s to keep life from staying the same since I seem to be so happy with the way things are now?

Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to wedge good feeling into things that don’t naturally generate them.  I know what feels good and this is not it!  Maybe I’m straddling the two.  Thinking I can somehow lasso the life I have to the life I want. If I pull hard enough they will come together. They have to become one, eventually, don’t they?

Do I need to look at what I Do Not Choose more carefully so I can figure out how to change it?  But that leads me to ask,: Why isn’t this change working?  What am I doing wrong?   No, thank you.  That feels like a closed valve, keeping good things from coming my way.

The Positive Slant says, why not?  Doesn’t it feel better to love my now AND my then?   The Secret, of course, is to love what you have.

Could I live without an intention or a goal, though?  Seems hard to me.  As Paulette Terrels has said, What if your Purpose is Peace?  Or Love?  Or even Joy?  Rather that this or that _____.

The things I love in my current life don’t have to have anything to do with what I may not “prefer at the moment.”  I can base my Joy on Whatever Happens or on things that are connected to the situation only by their flavor – like joy or peace.

A practice might be to find those things that feel good which are not directly connected to the life situation or the thing I do not choose. Not entangling myself in what I do and do not want. Like finding some middle ground between the two.  A bridge which could connect them.  What are some things I Love about now? Being able to help others. Taking a walk on a beautiful fall day. Thoughts about my future.  A drink of cool fresh water. Having time to express my art.  Being with people I love. Taking good care of myself. Doing something special for me or my loved ones.

The trick, according to”Conversations with God,” is . . . To choose something while not condemning, but loving too, that which you do not choose. For one thing, this thing I do not choose is what brought me here – closer to that which I Do Want.

The key then is to love whatever is happening, holding my intention lightly.  After all, loving life every moment does not lock an otherwise not wanted situation in place.  The more I can love whatever is in front of me, the more of that same feeling I’ll get.

In the end, it must be about getting past Do and Do Not Want – into Acceptance of whatever is there. It’s all a Joy, all a ride.

In observing my thoughts lately, what I’ve discovered is that they are not so much negative, as they are a constant stream of commentary.  Though it may not be all negative, it is rampant with judgments.

When I’m judging, I’m not accepting.  Without acceptance, it’s harder to change.  You don’t have to judge something “wrong” in order to change it.  It works far better to tell the truth about who you choose to be in relation to this thing you would like to judge.  Telling the truth, as you see it, without the judgment, gives you a broader perspective, a wider berth from which to make any necessary changes.  Acceptance is a far more solid and powerful place.  You can make more conscious and caring choices which reflect who you really are.  Rather than stirring up someone’s ire to fight back.  This allows you to choose what you want, rather than what you do not.

I wish to forgive others their minor traffic violations, as I forgive my own.  Many of my judgments come into play on the road.  The truth is, sometimes, I’m not sure where I’m going and have to make a quick turn.  Maybe I’m tired and cannot be as conscious or polite as I’d like to be. Why can’t I offer the same leeway to others?  I know it’s okay to make mistakes, after all.  We all do it.  And through mistakes you find acceptance, adjustments, more knowledge, and clearer vision.  I do not need to judge others’ driving ability.

When I find myself judging others, it’s usually in a place where I am unfairly judging myself.  Or feel others are judging me.

Woody Allen once said something like, he heard Commentary and Dissent were merging to form “Dissentary.” When judgments are flowing, like dysentery, you need to find medicine to stop that flow.  Acceptance and forgiveness are good pills to take.  If need be, there’s always the magic potion of gratitude. It’s hard to judge when you’re feeling grateful.

I’ve been reading this book, “Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting,” by Lynn Grabhorn.  Though I’m moving through it slowly, I’m enjoying it.  I like the way she talks so plainly, so almost casually about things.  I think that’s why I like it so much and why she gets me motivated to carry out her simple ideas.

Lynn says that the instant you start to feel bad, you change your thoughts.  No matter what it is, if you don’t have to act that second, shut it off!  Find something, anything else that feels better.  It might just be a tiny bit better, but that’s something to build on.  Stay with the better feeling thoughts as long as you can.  I like to use my favorite things list when this happens to me – the smell of salt water, sun on my face, vacation, Johnny Depp. . .   Like a sweet on your tongue, a cool breeze when you’re hot, putting down a heavy burden and feeling relief, this can change your mood entirely. All you have to do is let go of the distressing thought.

Right away, you need to put some healing salve on the wound. Talk to yourself, gently.  Remind yourself that it’s okay, you can handle it.  All will be well.  Give yourself a hug if you can, or the touch of a hand.  Just as a good friend or parent would do.  Smooth it on, get rid of the sting.

Immediately, switch from the soft love to the tough love. Speak frankly (she suggests out loud, but to yourself, if you need to).  I tell myself that being freaked out about this isn’t going to make it go away, or get me what I want.  It does me no good to sit and stew about it. I have to stop doing that now and not look back.  I’ll be better able to handle it without all that nasty stuff hanging around me.

You close by slipping directly into thoughts about what you do want.  Lynn’s all about generating and cooking those feelings.  Those are the magical ones which will bring what you want to you.

This is a good practice because, in time, you can do it in just a few minutes.  I like that she agrees with me that time spent on the bad feelings does nothing for you, nothing to help the situation.  Even if it requires you make some tough decisions or take some difficult action, you’ll do it far easier and more effectively if you get yourself into that calm state of good feelings.

So, all you need to do is remember the path:
1) Immediately find a better thought.
2) Then, give yourself some good love to heal.
3) Shift into talking honestly about the futility of staying in that negative state.
4) Slip gracefully into the good feelings about what you do want.
5) Be in a calmer state to take care of whatever is in front of you.

Lynn ties it up well:  “Just remember, however fast your Want comes is directly related to how fast (and how permanently) you can switch your focus OFF what is keeping you in a negative vibration, and ON where you want to go. No matter how dire your circumstances may seem at the moment, it is not permanently glued to you. You just have to decide what you want in  place of your problem, then provide the Feel Good frequency that will give it birth.”

Cheryl Richardson’s newsletter this week talks about how attachments can make you blind to what’s right in front of you.  When you’re all wrought up, searching for something or expecting something to happen, you often miss the prize that’s there for the taking.

Attachments affect us in all kinds of ways.  For instance, I’m feeling sad today about the passing of summer. A final weekend at the beach, coupled with a gloomy and cool day has me feeling like summer has packed up its things and moved out.  I don’t want to let it go.

I love summer! Everyone’s out and in colorful, easy clothes. The rules are different in the summertime. You get to leave early or take Fridays off.  Dress is always more casual through the summer, in the heat.  Adventures lay ahead.  Ice cream cones and sprinklers. Swimming pools, oceans and lakes beckon. The hum of the air conditioner and the livin’ is easy. I’m always taken by the array of summer flowers around otherwise dreary parking lots. Trees and bushes are full and abundant. There’s nothing like the sun coming through a roof of green leaves. When it’s warm out, even rain feels good. Cookouts and outdoor games . . .  There’s so much to cheer about in the summer! 

But holding fast to it is not going to make it stay any longer than it chooses. Clearly there are attachments which just don’t make any sense. Having attachments to things that are bound to change is much like lugging around a huge weight. You’re unlikely to get anywhere, much less have any success in bringing the object along with you.

We tend to get attached to many things that are clearly changeable. All of life is subject to change. Certainly things like youth, old victories, life, sameness, routine, others, to name a few. Day turns to night. Seasons change. Even my delicious long weekend had to end at some point. Trying to stave off that inevitable ending is quite futile and frustrating.

I believe many of these aches can be relieved by simply turning our attention. I adore summer, there’s no question about that. But fall has a few good points, too. The wondrous vista of fall colors fills my heart with joy. The chill in the air makes me feel like something special is just around the corner. Fires in the fireplace, sweaters and light scarves. Perfect sleeping weather. Dandelion wine and Dandelion tea. Apple cider and crispy fresh apples. There is much to celebrate about the fall.

So, where we can, let’s try to turn our attention away from the attachments that are clearly marching on with or without us. I can focus on the Fall and let the summer fade away. Say a loving goodbye and get on with it.

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