Friday, September 23, 2011

For Today, Newly Bright

I have a watercolor painting in my bedroom of a tiny sparrow sitting in some tall grasses and flowers as the sun’s yellow rays brighten the retreating gray of early morning. The painting is entitled “For Today, Newly Bright.”

The painting reminds me every morning that today is a new day. A fresh start. A new beginning. A day of possibilities. What will I do with them?

A few days ago, I read a wonderful interview involving two of my favorite bloggers. Tess at The Bold Life interviewed Sibyl Chavis, who writes The Possibility of Today. In the interview, Sibyl quoted this wonderful suggestion from the Dalai Lama.

Every day, think as you wake up, Today I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others. I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

The first part focuses on gratitude. A simple thank you for our lives, an appreciation of the gift we have been given. The second part focuses on aspirations for the day. You could make whatever aspirations you want.

Pema Chodron describes this aspiration practice as “one at the beginning, and one at the end.” In the morning, she makes an aspiration for the day. For example, “May I not speak or act out of anger.” Keep it simple. Then, in the evening, she reviews the day. If you are like me, then you might not have a perfect aspiration track record for the day. Chodron anticipates that (must be common!) by encouraging us to rejoice if we remember our aspiration even once during the day. And if we forgot it completely, then we can rejoice that we have the capacity to be aware of that!

Thich Nhat Hanh describes the Buddhist practice of “beginning anew.” Beginning anew is a determination not to repeat the mistakes of the past, a commitment to living in mindfulness. It reminds me of the Christian concept of reconciliation, or the Jewish concept of atonement. Honestly acknowledging our past frees us to begin anew. Each time we make this vow to ourselves, transformation occurs immediately. We can renew this intention as often as we feel the need to unburden our hearts and start fresh.

I like the theme of rejoicing in our effort rather than scolding ourselves for our imperfection. What a pleasant way to begin and end the day, with gratitude. And to anticipate tomorrow. Full of promise. Newly bright.


  1. I like your idea of Newly Bright and your little bird in the painting. If we all remember we are all a part of each other we would share the love.

  2. There's much positive energy generated after I read your posts. It's a great way to start the day.
    Thank you

  3. Another inspiring post Galen, thank you.

    I once had taped to the inside of my door a message for myself I needed to embrace, before I left the house I was consciously aware of this message. After a while the message became a part of me and who and what I aspire to be. It's amazing how when we change our attitudes we also change our lives, I love it... it's that easy (sometimes).

    Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Again, you have given me so much reflection that is often there, but sometimes gets missplaced....I too have those day brighteners and little precious quotes that just seem to fall into place....especially this time of year when I know the seasons changing are moving so quickly and that winter is coming, and I need to focus on the good of that season, and stop wasting so much of this precious First day of Fall today!....and stop wishing for spring! Have a great weekend Galen!

  5. Manzanita--The painting is by an artist from Taiwan, Ceclia Lin. I agree--remembering we are part of each other opens our hearts. Thanks for commenting.

    BM--Thank you! Reading your comment was a great way to start my day!

    darlin--I have little messages to myself all over! And yes, in time they become part of me. For example, I have my word of the year "yield" in several places so that I will always see it and remind myself to soften. Thanks for your comment.

    Karen--Thanks for the reminder to embrace autumn. This season has a different feel to me this year because it's when I used to retrun to work. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Lovely job here and those aspirations are also a part of the healing process and are crucial to achieving things like a pain free day or joints that move with grace...

    It is not just the power of positive thinking it is the actions that we take bundled together with the hope within the aspiration phrase and thought

    Nice words thank you for sharing

  7. I love the idea of starting fresh every day with a plan to be positive and help others. Thank you for the inspiration. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  8. Galen: Thank you so much for the kind words about the post. I really appreciate it. I also love what you shared from Thich Nhat Hanh. I am totally aligned with that thinking ... in fact, I think it perfectly explains the tagline I always use of "Live Today Better than Yesterday". Thanks for sharing that. I am definitely using that one:)

  9. Gratitude is so important, and yet it is SO easily overlooked in our journey for peace in this life. If we can't be grateful for what we have, how on earth can we be grateful for our dreams when they come true?

  10. Patricia--Thanks for the reminder that positive thinking manifests through actions.

    Bonnie--I did have a good weekend. Hope you did, too.

    Sibyl--I was thinking about your tagline today. It is a great life motto.

    Bryan--I know. It's so simple and we so easily miss it. Love your point about being grateful when our dreams come true.

  11. I'm inspired again - to start each day afresh! Thank you, Galen.

  12. Thank you very much - This is a beautiful way to start the day! Gratitude is one of my favourite activity but I like the other idea as well - being aware of our acts and rejoicing in little improvements, allowing ourselves to see the positive in us, instead of always blaming ourselves for our mistakes.
    Stay well.

  13. "Each time we make this vow to ourselves, transformation occurs immediately."

    This is special, renewal, and of course, gratitude. Another day, to live and explore. Yes, troubles may be present, but somehow there always happens to be a bright spot among the dark clouds. If you are not careful, though, you will miss it!


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