Grace and Four Blocks to Openness
Someone who moves with grace is considered to be elegant in manner and actions.
To say grace before a meal is an act of humble thankfulness.
To offer someone grace is to grant them a favor, or mercy, or some expression of goodwill.
In theological terms, grace is something unmerited, freely given, not something you have to work for but is a gift, an unexpected blessing. “the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.”
Sounds a lot like inspiration to me.
In his thought-provoking book called Creativity, Matthew Fox says that creativity is a grace we are born with and submits that it is our destiny as a species. The ability to create is not something that only strikes some and only at certain times. It is there waiting for us to be open, ready, and receptive.
Openness is everything.
So how do we remain open, ready, and receptive? First, we have to discover the blocks that keep us from being open and then start dismantling those blocks. Here are four blocks that seriously limit our experience of life, followed by ways to dismantle them.
1. Judgments or labeling
This person is a waitress. That person is a Republican. He is elitist. She is uneducated. They are bozo’s. Why should we care about sea turtles? It’s just a rock.
* Turn it around. How would someone label us? Is it a fair assessment? Aren’t we much more whole, complex creatures than that? One of my favorite truth-talkers, Danielle Laporte, says that even bozos have something to say! She also says that we’re all bozos on the same bus.
* Take the “other” to lunch. Elizabeth Lesser issues this challenge in her TED Talk. The “other” is anyone who thinks differently, or maybe comes from an entirely different culture. Having a civil discussion with that person over the breaking of bread just might be an eye-opening experience.
* Know yourself. Are you totally aware of your limitations as well as your strengths? We need each other in this great big world; we all make mistakes, and by seeing and accepting our own limitations (and strengths), we’ll be better able to see and accept limitations (and strengths) in others.
2. Playing by the rules and entrenched habits
Rules are necessary to maintain some kind of order, but always going by the rules leads to a dull life. What rules or habits can you break?
* Some rules are made to be broken. Do you need a 9 to 5 job to be successful, happy, and financially stable? I don’t think so.
* Mistakes can lead to something new. My husband and I visited a winery in Ontario that has won all kinds of international awards for its icewine. The owner was a hair stylist from Toronto who wanted to try making icewine. He thought he had followed the standard way of making icewine with his first batch, but it tasted different. He realized that he had missed a very important step. So, he served that batch only to family and friends, only to find that they liked it better than other icewine. He had accidentally discovered a new way of making icewine and the international judges agreed with his family and friends.
* Eliminate bad habits. Create successful habits. Leo Babauta (Zen Habits) wrote a post about how to eliminate bad habits from your life. Basically, start with just one and go from there.
3. Fear and Ego
Most of us have some recurring fears, whether of death, failure, success, abandonment, shame, etc. My word for this year is fearless, so fear is one of my biggest blocks. Fear of criticism and failure mostly. And I know I need to just get over it.
* Recognize your fears. The first step to transforming your fears into courage is to recognize and acknowledge them. It really is amazing how this simple act can start to deflate those fears.
* Our egos are at the root of our fears. Pride, despair, victimization, not wanting to be different, needing to be liked, etc. all get in the way of our growth. Notice when ego is driving your actions and reactions.
* Take some risks. Once we recognize our fears, the way to plow right through is to analyze the consequences of failure versus success. Failure, in most cases, is not the end of the world, while success can change your life. Try something new. Learn something new. Life is so much more exciting if we just go for it.
Our lives are packed with stuff. Besides having lots to do, distractions are aplenty, including blog posts like this, TV, twitter, phone calls, email, etc.
* See what you can eliminate. Check Twitter, Facebook or email only once or twice per day? Only accept phone calls from a select group. Answer all other calls later. Turn the TV off.
* Add habits that will expand your awareness. Meditate. Take a class. Read a book. Go for a walk. Travel.
* Be present. Just pay attention, be in the moment, notice what is happening around you. What lights your fire?
Life is one fine gift just waiting to be opened. What are you meant to create? And what is blocking you?