Ways to live better...

Learning about spiritual principles is commonplace at any spiritual centre, but embodying those principles is harder to do. Often in life, we have theoretical beliefs about what’s right, but the way we live our lives and the actions we take aren’t always in alignment.

 When I was about 14 years old, I developed a close friendship with a 16-year-old girl at school who was in my grade. She had failed 2 years of school, her parents struggled with substance abuse, and she was in and out of group homes because her parents weren’t always around. But we found a reliable consistency in each other, a non-judgmental friend (often in short supply during adolescence), and an unconditional acceptance. We would have fun over music and laughs, and talk about life’s more serious issues too. There was something real, vulnerable and honest between us. We didn’t need to pretend, and we knew that no matter what we revealed to one another, the other would love us just the same.

 But my father didn’t want me being friends with her. He said she would be a bad influence on me, and he didn’t feel comfortable with me spending time at her house and around her parents. Now that I’m a parent of two young children, I can understand his nervousness. But I feel glad that when I was 14, I didn’t understand. I fought to maintain our friendship, insisting to him that rather than thinking she would be a bad influence on me, he should have faith that I could be a good influence on her. The truth was, we were a good influence on each other, because everyone needs connection, acceptance, laughter, openness and love. These are some of the things that we found through our friendship.

Ironically, at the time, my father worked in a group home with troubled youths. So he knew better than anyone, how unfair it is to judge or isolate a person because of their background, upbringing, circumstance or family. He also knew that because of these factors, she needed my support and friendship even more. But even though he went to work and compassionately supported the youth there, wishing that others would treat them as people with love and without judgment, when it came to his own daughter, his fears got the best of him. So I called him out on it. He admitted it was true that my friend needed my support more than ever, but in practice, he was too afraid to embrace her presence in my life, because of the issues she brought with her from which he wanted to protect me.

 This became a pivotal moment for my father, and one that we often go back to in our conversations about living in alignment. It isn’t always easy to embody our principles, but opening ourselves up to this is a part of living out our higher truth, and serving others by extending the love we all possess.

January’s theme at CSLto is embodying spiritual principles. Here are some spiritual principles to live a better life: Acceptance, Living my truth, Gratitude, Service, Laughter, Presence, Generosity, Forgiveness, Openness, Love.

 Try this: Choose one of these principles to focus on this month. Create an affirmation around it, post it around your house and in places you will see it often, and recite it at least once daily. Note how you are embodying this principle in your daily life.