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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reverb10, Day 28: Achieving economic prosperity

Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

The author of this prompt is Tara Sophia Mohr:
The Women's Seder Sourcebook: Rituals & Readings for Use at the Passover Seder

"The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God." Bahá'u'lláh

"...cooperation, mutual aid and reciprocity are essential characteristics in the unified body of the world of being, inasmuch as all created things are closely related together and each is influenced by the other or deriveth benefit therefrom, either directly or indirectly." 'Abdu'l-Bahá

"Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements."  Bahá'u'lláh 

"...the implications of the law of Huqúqu'lláh for the realization of a number of the principles of the Faith, such as the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and a more equitable distribution of resources, will increasingly become manifest as the friends assume in ever greater measure the responsibility for observing it...this mighty law, a source of inestimable blessings for all humanity." The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2006, Huqúqu'lláh Compilation 2007, 104. 

Two words: Economic prosperity. No more scraping by. It was fine to have to fall back on my savings when I was in my twenties. It is no fun now that I am in my thirties. I have lots to offer the world, and I am prepared to work hard, but from now on I expect to be compensated accordingly. There are things that I would like to do with my life, such as raising children, paying off student loans, contributing to the Baha'i fund, buying a piece of land, and building a home. I do not want to live excessively, but I do want to know that I can provide for myself, and, someday, for my family. I feel strongly about being capable of being financially independent. I need to know that I can stand on my own two feet. As a Baha'i, I have a spiritual and moral responsibility as a member of the human race to be contributing to leveling out the current economic inequalities that exist between the wealthiest and the poorest members of our global community. I am not alright with the differences between my quality of life and the quality of life that I saw many people living in Cairo when I was there in 2006. And I know that the citizens of many countries, like Haiti, fair far worse. Achieving personal economic prosperity means I will have the freedom to contribute more generously to the many global efforts that are working to level out these inequalities. Economic prosperity has both material and spiritual implications. 

I imagine that being economically prosperous would mean that I would feel more peace of mind, because I would have the means at my disposal to be an agent of change at a level that I currently do not possess. Of course I always have my time and my skills, and I give of these whenever I can. But sometimes making things happen in life means having the material resources to do so. I also imagine that being economically more prosperous would mean feeling freer to travel, to pursue business ideas, to give to charities, and to attend family gatherings and important life events such as a close friend's wedding every now and then. Other states of being that I associate with economic prosperity are feeling less stressed, and more independent; possessing a greater degree of self-confidence, and having the ability to pursue a wider range of creative and educational projects that will benefit my community. 

So I am obviously not there yet. I have goals, and I am working towards them, but I have a ways to go before I will be able to be making large contributions to charities in Haiti. I will keep working towards my long term goals in the new year, but in the meantime, there are small things that I can do now to help me progress towards my goals. 

I have come up with a list of 10 things I can DO or THINK RIGHT NOW that will empower me, give me peace of mind, help release stress, and make me feel more independent and self-confident (most of the feelings I associate with financial prosperity). Hopefully some of these will inspire you on your path towards your own goal!  

1. Pray. Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith, says that our prayers have a profound effect on our lives, even if we cannot at first see the effect: 
"Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee,
as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him,
that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul,
and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber,
the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty
shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth,
and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb.
Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue
of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise
its influence upon his soul." -Baha'u'llah

2. Compile a list of positive affirmations and quotes. By repeating certain ideas or thoughts on a regular basis, they become an integral part of how I think. Two of my favourites, which I repeat to myself regularly, are:
"I give you a commandment which shall be for a covenant between you and me — that ye have faith; that your faith be steadfast as a rock that no storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end;...As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance---this is the balance---this is the balance." -Abdu'l-Baha


"The greatest divine bounty is a confident heart. When the heart is confident, all the trials of the world will be as child's play. Should they throw him into a prison, should they cast him into a black well, should they heap him all manner of afflictions, still his heart is content, peaceful, and assured." -Abdu'l-Baha

3. Do yoga. I was never into yoga. I have always thought that the only sports worth my attention were the vigorous ones that required considerable huffing and puffing, like running and gymnastics. But I am finding that yoga not only keeps my body strong (and sometimes very sore!!), it also does truly amazing things to my mind and heart. It helps me to keep my attention focused on my goals, which brings me closer and closer to achieving them. 

4. Pick the brains of people who are economically prosperous. I have been learning the immense value of role models lately. Surrounding myself with people who are where I want to be is a tremendous encouragement and learning experience. I may not have my dream job yet, but there are plenty of people living all around me who do. I just need to find them and flash my angelic smile ;-)

5. Give myself a break. I can be incredibly hard on myself. Every now and then, stopping and actually saying out loud "thank you for sharing that opinion/criticism/comment -- but personally I think I am a rock star," is always helpful. Anything that lightens the heart and makes me smile at myself is a positive step towards achieving my goals. I was just at an an exhibit of post-impressionists in San Francisco the other day, and was reflecting on the fact that Van Gogh only sold ONE painting during his lifetime, and he sold it to his own brother. I mean, really. How many famous people have stories like this? tonnes, that's how many.

6. Re-read Marianne Williamson's quote, made famous by Nelson Mandela. I won't quote it all here, but you will know what I am talking about by the this short piece: "We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, out presence automatically liberates others." If that does not make you feel hopeful, I do not know what will. Sheer genius, I tell you! 

7. Celebrate the small steps. Whenever I first start trying to work towards something, my goal feels really far off. Celebrating the small accomplishments along the way breaks up the distance between where I am standing right now and where I want to be standing. It also encourages me along the way! 

8. Talk to a friend. Friends are the best thing to ever walk the surface of the earth, in my opinion. Whenever I am feeling like none of my plans are going to work out, and as though I would be better off to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, I put in a call to a friend who points out all of my assets, and how much progress I have made, and how valuable my contribution to the world is, and the world suddenly gets much brighter. Works like a charm every time. 

9. Serve. Offering service is like a magic salve to any of life's problems. Serving others always makes me feel ten times better about my own life and capabilities. I feel peace of mind and heart, less stressed, and far more optimistic about what I have to contribute to the world. 

10. Have a little faith. Having faith when I am feeling shaky sometimes feels almost impossible, but when I push myself a little, and assure myself that if I have a little more faith, things will work out, I usually find that things start looking up. 
So there you have it! I will end this blog with a poem that lifts my spirits every time I read it. It is by Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum:

To walk where there is no path
To breathe where there is no air
To see where there is not light-
This is Faith.

To cry out in the silence,
The silence of the night,
And hearing no echo believe
And believe again and again-
This is Faith.

To hold pebbles and see jewels
To raise sticks and see forests
To smile with weeping eyes-
This is Faith.

To say: "God, I believe" when others deny,
"I hear" when there is no answer,
"I see" though naught is seen-
This is Faith.

And the fierce love in the heart,
The savage love that cries
Hidden Thou art yet there !
Veil Thy face and mute Thy tongue
yet I see and hear Thee, Love,
Beat me down to the bare earth,
Yet I rise and love Thee, Love !"
This is Faith.

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