This is the second of 10 posts I’m writing about how to combine gratitude and compassion for a happier life.
Here’s where the idea came from: recently I wrote an article for LivingNow magazine in Australia about brain science research from Dr Amit Sood of the famous Mayo Clinic that indicates something quite profound and amazing:
“Because of the way your brain works, the pursuit of gratitude and compassion will make you happier than the pursuit of happiness itself.” – Dr Amit Sood
That’s a pretty major insight!
You can read the LivingNow article here: http://livingnow.com.au/compassion/
How can we implement this amazing insight in practice to turbo power our happiness?
I’ve come up with a pretty simple 4-part framework for combining gratitude and compassion, and I’m sharing how to do that using 10 different examples in 10 posts. In each post I focus on a different area of gratitude as a jumping off point.
This week my gratitude reference point is my experiences in making The Abundance Code film.
1. The Gratitude Piece – I’m Grateful for The Abundance Code Film
In 2016 I wanted to fulfill a big vision: to make an impactful film about ABUNDANCE that would evolve the global conversation about what Abundance really means, and how we can create more of it in our lives, in our communities and on our planet.
The Abundance Code film was released online in a Free Worldwide Screening on June 21st, 2016 (a solstice day)… and over 73,000 people watched it and shared it with their friends and family during the 10 day screening period.
The feedback was amazing… People loved it! It was transforming hearts and minds. Some people watched it 5 or 6 times over. One person even wrote and told me it probably stopped him from committing suicide. That’s the pinnacle, right there, in terms of the kind of impact I’d hoped and dreamed the film would have.
I was so happy! And I felt so grateful!
And then I kind of fell in an exhausted heap…
The project asked more of me than I could’ve imagined going into it. Basically, I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I just had a dream, and a strong inner drive to birth this film into reality, and to help bring about a fundamental shift in abundance consciousness around the world.
Had I ever made a film before? Nope. Did I have the right skills and experience to do it? Nope.
But I did have one amazing thing… which I talked about in Post #1 – I had an incredible network of people that I could call on to help me fulfill my vision.
And boy, did they ever show up!
The film would not exist without the support and guidance and sheer hard work of people like Michael Maidens, Mark Falzon, Enzo Tedeschi, Justin Brown, Daniel Walker, Savannah Jackson, Susan Garrett, Paul Dawkins, Paula Maidens, Ellysia Maidens, Bronwynne Bandiera, the team at Food Matters, Hay House, The Magnificent Itch, Deadhouse Films and so many others… too many to mention (you know who you are)… as well as all of the amazing experts who agreed to be interviewed in the film, and the members of my network who introduced me to many of those wonderful experts.
My list of Gratitude is so long when it comes to The Abundance Code film.
Making The Abundance Code film felt like such a powerful calling that I just had to do it.
Even though I didn’t know how, and I didn’t have all the skills to pull it off, I had to trust that the help I needed would show up.
Even though I wasn’t sure how we were going to pay for it, I had to trust that the funds we needed would arrive.
I had to move forward in FAITH that the path would unfold before me. Even though I couldn’t see HOW in advance. And it did. It was quite miraculous, really. A lot of amazing and spooky stuff happened in the the process of making the film.
I still had to put in effort, and do a ton of work… me and the team had to bring everything we had to the project… but all the resources we needed to pull it off did arrive. Sometimes just in the nick of time.
I feel honoured, humbled and proud all at the same time. So very grateful.
AND If I hadn’t had the faith to move forward, not knowing HOW it would all come together, then the project never would’ve happened.
(By the way, YOU were also a huge part of The Abundance Code’s success. You signed up, you watched, you were moved to share the film with others. We can’t thank you enough.)
2. The Compassion Piece – Some People Die with Their Music Still Inside Them
A lot of people have special dreams they carry in their hearts that they don’t allow themselves to pursue because of fear. They can’t see how it could possible work for them to follow their dreams, so they don’t. Or they’ve been conditioned to believe that following their dreams would be irresponsible, or selfish, or pointless… so they give up on the idea.
As a result, too many people die with their music still inside of them.
I have a lot of empathy and compassion for those people. That’s a tough way to live, and a sad way to die.
I believe that everyone has special gifts – gifts that are unique only to them – that they are here to share with the world.
It could be their kindness. It could be their ability to listen, to get to the heart of a situation and give great advice. It could be they are gifted in performance, or art or storytelling. It could be they inspire others with their positive outlook, or their resilience, or their ability to transmute their own suffering into wisdom. It could be that they are really good at bookkeeping and they love helping people get their business finances in order!
Whatever it is, there are no “right” or “wrong” dreams (as long as they don’t harm others).
I love the book by Bronnie Ware called “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”. Bronnie Ware was a palliative care nurse, someone who would care for people in the final stages of their lives.
Her ability to give compassionate and nurturing care to people at such a vulnerable time in their lives was no doubt part of her gift. And her ability to see the common themes people grapple with at that stage in their journey, and communicate those themes to the world through her writing is no doubt another gift.
Bronnie got to see up close and personally the top regrets of people who are close to death. According to her, the top 5 regrets of the dying are:
Bronnie’s book goes way beyond just sharing the top 5 regrets people have – her storytelling is truly beautiful and inspiring, and there’s so much wisdom and kindness in the pages of her book. I highly recommend it. It’s a gift to the world.
So how can WE avoid dying with our music still inside of us?
It does require a leap of faith sometimes to follow your heart, and to pursue those special cherished dreams that truly inspire you.
The road is not always smooth either – just because you make a leap of faith to follow your heart, that doesn’t mean you won’t face challenges and setbacks along the way.
Your faith needs to be strong. And yes, you probably still need to take care of practical considerations like having a roof over your head, having food to eat and caring for your family. But please don’t let fear stop you from taking the first steps and letting the path unfold before you.
Try to develop some faith in yourself, some faith in the power of your subconscious mind to find a way, and faith in the universe to bring you synchronous opportunities if you ask it to. Remember to ask for help and guidance from your brothers and sisters in this world, but don’t listen to the naysayers. Because dying with your music still inside of you would be sad for you, and sad for the world that would miss out on receiving the benefit of your unique gifts.
The compassion piece can help you when you waver.
When I’m feeling afraid and uncertain about following a dream of mine, it does help me to think about people who’ve died with their music still inside them. People who were too scared to try, or too discouraged by the scepticism of others so they gave up on their dreams. It seems such a shame, and it helps me to remember that I don’t want to live (or leave) this life with any regrets.
3. The Meditation Piece – Sending Loving Kindness
This is based on a Buddhist practice called Metta. It involves imagining sending ‘loving kindness’. What’s that? I imagine it to be like the feeling you get from a loving, nurturing hug.
Firstly, for all the times in my life that I’ve felt too afraid or discouraged to follow a dream, I send loving kindness to myself.
(The practice of compassion always begins with the self. If we can’t practice self-compassion then it’s going to be very hard for us to have compassion for others.)
Like most people, I’ve held myself back at times out of fear. I’ve also had times where I’ve been overly sceptical and maybe pooh-poohed other people’s dreams, just because I couldn’t see how it would work. Darn. I forgive myself for that… I send my younger self, who didn’t know any better, loving kindness.
Secondly, for all the people I love, respect, and admire… I send them loving kindness for all the times they may feel cautious or afraid about following their heart and pursuing a cherished dream. They may be keeping a cherished dream buried and secret without me knowing it.
Thirdly, for all the people I don’t even know who may be struggling in this way… I send loving kindness. For all the people I do know but don’t have much of a relationship with, who may also be struggling with this… I send loving kindness.
Fourthly, for all the people I know who actually irritate me, or people that I’m currently having issues with who may also be struggling in this way… I send them loving kindness. Especially people who want to follow their dreams and yet if they do that, it might feel scary or inconvenient to me!
4. The Action Piece – Putting it Together
What can I do this week to put it into action? How can I express my gratitude for having followed many of my own dreams, and my compassion for those who feel afraid or blocked in doing this too?
Firstly, I pledge to not rain on anyone else’s dream parade. If someone shares a cherished dream with me I pledge to offer whatever support and guidance I can, without trying to dissuade them or tell them why I think it won’t work. I won’t ask them to dream smaller. Because I don’t know what’s possible and what’s not!
Miracles happen all the time. They’re mysterious, and often they make little logical sense. So who am I to say that something isn’t possible?
Secondly, I pledge to ask people what their cherished dreams are in life. What they feel their special gift to the world might be. Instead of just talking about politics, or the weather, or asking someone new “what do you do?”… I pledge to explore what their dreams and aspirations are, with a sense of wonder and genuine interest, and without judgement. I’ll encourage them to dream BIG.
Thirdly, where appropriate, I’ll share my stories about following my dreams, about seeing amazing miracles happen in my own life and wonderful synchronicities that have allowed me to fulfill my dreams… with the view to providing inspiration and evidence to others that it’s possible.
Who can you help to dream big this week?
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if this post has helped you!
To YOUR Abundance,
Julie Ann Cairns