The Greatest Love of All

I was fifteen years old when I first fell in love with a boxer named Muhammad Ali. I know that might sound strange, but I assure you, I’m not the only one that loves the man who was once The Heavyweight Champion of the World.  He has, however, always been much more than just a boxer to me and millions of others, and here’s why. The self-love he showed as a young man changed when he started to grow spiritually and as person, and as a result, he began to show more kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others, and slowly learned to love people unconditionally.

It’s been over 35 years since I began my love affair with the man who called himself “The Greatest.” And although he may not be the athlete he once was, I know his beliefs allow him to love who he is today. Of course at 52, I’m certainly not the athlete I once was either, but I can also say I love who I am today. It may have taken me awhile to achieve this self-love, but I did it the same way Ali did; through spiritual and personal growth.

When we try to grow on a continual basis, we begin to love ourselves enough to be happy with who we are, and eventually we love ourselves unconditionally. When we love ourselves unconditionally, it holds the promise of some day being able to love others unconditionally as well.

It may have taken Muhammad Ali time to be able to show everyone kindness, understanding, and tolerance. But the type of self-love he eventually possessed, not only allowed him to do those things at a greater level than most, it also allowed him to love “all” people unconditionally. That’s why learning to love ourselves truly is the greatest love of all.

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Spiritual Imperfection

To be perfect is to be entirely free of any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. I know I’m nowhere close to being a perfect person and that I never will be. However, I don’t really worry that much about my imperfections, or for that matter, the spiritual imperfections I also have.

I realize that part of spiritual growth is knowing I will always need to grow and that having imperfections is a part of who I am. I don’t necessarily like having them and I certainly don’t like seeing them in other people. But because I have learned to love myself unconditionally, I am slowly learning to love others unconditionally as well.

It needs to be noted, though, that our imperfections do not give any of us the right to hurt others, nor should they be used as an excuse for when we do. But if we honestly keep striving for personal and spiritual growth, even when we fall far short of being perfect, it’s still possible to love ourselves and be happy with who we are.

An unconditional love for ourselves that holds the promise of loving others in the same way, no matter what their imperfections may be.

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Finding Happiness When We’re Sad

I got my year book out the other day, and as I was looking at the pictures of my former classmates, some of who are gone now, I began to feel sad. Besides the nostalgia I felt,  my little trip down memory lane made me realize even more how precious time is.

As some of you know, after high school was over I spent a lot of time drinking and wasting precious moments of my life. But the good news is that I’ve been sober for close to fourteen years now, and over that time, I learned how to make each day the best I can.

Time has gone by quickly since high school. And although I wasted a lot of years drinking, I made up for it in the years I’ve been sober. I used that time to find greater happiness in life and help others realize two important things.  That they too can be happy without a drug and enjoy the time they have here, even when they’re sad.

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Creating Our Path

Some people believe we’re put on a path at birth that leads to our destiny, and while I try to believe we are here for a reason, I also know I had something to do with creating my path in life, especially in my sobriety.

Many books have been written about having the power to create our lives the way we want them to be. Most of them basically claim that we can create greater happiness by getting everything we want in life, like fame and fortune, extravagant homes, and other material things. One book even professes that nothing is impossible, and whatever we can dream of can be ours, once we know the “secret.”

However, there is one book that stands out from all the others and has actually been around longer than any of them. The name of the book as you can see in the picture is The Sermon On The Mount by Emmet Fox published in 1932, and it doesn’t talk about creating happiness through materialistic gains, but instead explains what the key to success is in life and how we can obtain greater happiness.

My happiness came about through a continual striving for personal and spiritual growth, but I will say I was fortunate to find this book at a time when I didn’t have a lot of faith in myself or a god of some kind.

Fortunately, today whenever doubts creep in about my future and my ability to create it the way I would like it to be, I try to believe as hard as I can that everything will be all right and I tell myself it will.  I also pray to whatever god there may be for help and, if needed, I talk to someone about my fears. Finally, I remind myself that success in life isn’t just having wealth and material things to make us happy, but having the kind of happiness that these things can’t bring, which is true happiness.

I define true happiness as loving ourselves enough to be happy with who we are. And if it is true that we have a destiny, I can’t think of a better one to have than that.

Providing, of course, that we’re willing to do what is needed to obtain it.

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A Better Definition Of Ego

One definition of ego is “the self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves.”  It seems a lot of people try to separate themselves from others today in an effort to be different.

Although I believe we are all one spiritually, I’m OK with being different. I know I am different from a lot of people you may meet, and fortunately, a lot different from who I was in my drinking days.

Today I try to help others feel the same kind of self-love I do. A love I never felt when drinking.

Another definition of ego is “an exaggerated sense of self-importance, or conceit.” Although this certainly seems to be the type of ego many people display today, it is really a “false sense of ego.” One that never truly helps a person feel better about themselves, but instead fuels their insecurities and turns others away. In that sense they have separated themselves. I had this type of ego in my drinking days, and it only caused me more of the emotional pain I often felt, and a sense of loneliness.

I know that some people need to feel different from others because it gives them a feeling of importance, and in some cases one of superiority. However, I also know that if someone has an “appropriate pride in themselves and self-esteem,” which is yet another definition of ego, they won’t need to feel better than others. Instead, they will want to be a better person than they were before.

Personal and spiritual growth can help us become a better person than we were before. And we quickly find the more we grow, the happier we become with who we are.

Maybe another definition of ego should be, “the self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves, but not from other spiritual beings.” In this way it wouldn’t matter so much how different or unique we are, as long as we truly love ourselves and try to help others love themselves too.

Especially those who feel different because of a deep emotional pain that keeps them in a self-imposed prison of loneliness.

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It Doesn’t Matter If We’re Different

Science tells us that we are all made up of the same matter, and in a spiritual sense, it can be said we’re all one. However, because of the many varieties and combinations of genes given to us by our parents, we’re all different, even twins. In fact, it can be said each one of us is actually unique.

Now if I’ve confused you it wasn’t my intention. I know the “we’re all one” thing and spirituality can be hard to accept for some people. But if we believe that something created life and the universe for a reason, like I try to do, it can help us feel more of a connection with one another.

Something else that can help us believe we are all one is our own ability to create. We all have the power to change our lives and ourselves for the better. I changed who I was for the better by changing my thought processes and my negative behaviors, and as a result, my life also improved.

It’s estimated that 50 percent of our genes are passed down from generation to generation, but we don’t have to be a product of our genes. Positive thinking and taking care of ourselves through diet and exercise can help us avoid any health problems our parents or grandparents may have.

We might not agree that we’re all one, even if science tells us we’re made up of the same stuff. But if there is a creator of some kind then it is possible to be different and unique, while still being all one.

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Feeling Like We’re Drifting Away

“Sometimes, for reasons within ourselves or not of our own making. We can feel like a piece of driftwood floating aimlessly about; being pulled in different directions. But with no real direction in life. However, it’s always good to remember in those times that driftwood is resilient – recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant. And I may add. Very hard to sink.”
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