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From Ted.com: What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.
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Best-selling author and award winning blogger, Neil Pasricha, gives a humorous presentation at TEDxToronto revealing the three “A” secrets to leading a life that’s truly awesome.
Recently, in an effort to declutter my life, I decided to part with a guitar I’d owned for 37 years. It was a hard decision because it had been with me through thick and thin for three-quarters of my life. The reality is, however, that my mission in life is clear and my beloved guitar would probably not ever be played again.
As hard as it was for me to let it go, an idea was brewing in the background. You see, there was a deeper story behind my guitar, and like other things I’ve grown attached to and let go of, I wanted to make sure this guitar found a good home.
The idea I’d like to share with you now is that you can declutter your life in a special way that allows personal healing of the loss you might feel in letting go of something you’re sentimentally attached to. Here’s the idea…
When you realize that something important in your life should really be let go of, you can write a special kind of letter to go with it. In writing the letter, you give continuity to the life of the thing you’re attached to and you have the opportunity to send a message of spirit into the future as a way of honoring the time you spent together.
So, I’ll close this article with the letter I enclosed with my guitar, as an example of how you can let go of your sentimental possessions.
The Lesson of This Guitar: A personal note to you from the previous guitar owner…
I thought you might like to know the life of your new guitar and let you know that we spent many happy hours playing together. I’ve owned it for 37 years and it’s traveled with me to Australia several times, as well as Tahiti.
It began its life in Tijuana, Mexico in 1974 and I always felt sad about how I acquired it. You see, I was born in Australia and when my mother remarried a NASA engineer from JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California), we moved to Los Angeles. I was 10 years-old when I arrived in America in 1973.
We made several trips to Tijuana, Mexico between 1973-1975 and it was on one of those trips that this guitar was purchased for me by my step-father.
I had never seen such poverty as was present in Tijuana. The hillsides were covered with cardboard boxes, where, I was told, thousands of people lived because they were too poor to live in houses. The poverty was not restricted to the hillsides, however. It ran rampant in the streets of Tijuana amongst the street vendors and it seemed to call out from every street corner, every restaurant, and every person we passed on the street. The sense of poverty and desperation was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
As we wove our way through the shops, my step-father (who could speak Spanish) bargained with the shop-keepers for prices that were unbelievably low. Everything we acquired seemed to be for pennies on the dollar.
Then we entered the shop where my young eyes spied a collection of guitars hanging from the ceiling, but I didn’t see them before I saw something else, a middle-aged man on his knees praying out loud in Spanish. His back was to us and he didn’t see us enter. The man turned out to be the shopkeeper. He was praying desperately to “Santa Maria” that his next customer might help him feed his family. His prayer was no act.
Having always wished for a guitar, there I was at age 11 in a shop with numerous guitars. I was excited and asked if I could have one. I was told I could and to pick out the one I wanted. What I didn’t know is that I was about to learn one of the deepest lessons of my life.
My step-father took up negotiations in Spanish. Soon, the growing anguish in the deep lines of the shop-keeper’s face were more than I could bear and a lump began growing in my throat. In the end, I got my guitar for just $10 along with a lesson in kindness and human dignity that will never leave me. My step-father walked out of there with a smug look on his face, proud of his ability to fight and win for the benefit of his own family, but completely oblivious to the effect he had on another man trying to feed his family.
Until today, no one ever knew what happened that day in that little shop in Mexico, or in the man, or in me. I learned that you can take advantage of other people in desperate circumstances and you can see ‘winning’ as a big game while committing the lowest of human deeds. Or, you can use your skills a little less ruthlessly and silently, secretly, give a gift of love.
I’m telling you the details of this story because I hope when you pick up this guitar, you’ll honor the shopkeeper who sold it to a little boy a long time ago, and through his pain taught the higher lesson that if we are to have peace in the world, we must be kind to one-another, making ‘winning’ less important than gentleness.
Put kindness and love into all your interactions and if one day you should sell or give this guitar to someone else, please pass this letter along with it, adding a loving message of your own, so that the message of love and light might spread still farther.
My kindest blessings,
Marina del Rey, California
May 25th, 2011
By the way, I’m about to take my guitar to a guitar shop, but I thought I’d give you the opportunity to give it a good home, first. If you’d like to own it, make me an offer. I’ll donate all but $10 to 10 Million Clicks For Peace to help war refugees and sponsor peace education. Then I’ll be framing that $10 bill.
Julian Kalmar is the founder of 10 Million Clicks For Peace.
When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost; to heal the broken; to feed the hungry;
To release the prisoner; to rebuild the nations;
To bring peace among brothers and sisters—
To make music in the heart.
Be amazed as the iconic Tony Robbins drills down to the core issues of a seemingly hopeless marital situation and saves the relationship - in 8 minutes! Watch until the end.