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I personally believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the greatest gifts to American spirituality. He spoke with passion, he lived with courage, he challenged others to rise above their present circumstances and experience themselves and others in a bigger and more loving way. His words resounded across our country like sweet notes of a deep and hidden truth. He walked fully and honestly, paving the way for others to do the same. He raised the light in the midst of great darkness. He dreamed of a possibility that we are beginning to see blossom into a reality. Through the actions of one man, an entire country has been changed, and Barak Obama’s inauguration as the next President of the United States is living proof that this is the case.

So today, in honor of a great teacher, reflect on the following nine quotes from Dr. King, allowing his great wisdom to resonate in your own life to experience more fullness, richness, and juiciness in the year ahead!

1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can.”

Positive situations can only arise from optimism. Peace will never be established through wars. And inner peace will never be created through negative self-talk.

Many of us are nice to others, but internally we are cruel dictators. Practice speaking softly to yourself this week, just like you would to a sweet, innocent child. He is compassionate and understanding. Be encouraged, excited and joyful for everything you dream of. It is only through a loving approach that true enjoyment and richness in life can be embraced.

2. “Faith is taking the first step even if you don’t see the whole ladder.”

Action is the missing step in the journey for so many people. Most of us know what we should be doing, but we don’t live in alignment with those goals. Stepping into wholeness and moving forward energetically, taking action, any action, is vital. Without movement, there is stagnation. Nothing can change when you stand still.

So take a leap. Make a decision about something small this week that you’ve been putting off. Once you take those first brave steps, life has a beautiful way of lighting the path ahead. With each step forward, the path will be revealed and your journey will unfold.

3. “The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”

Too often we stray in this country and only hold the end results of our efforts in high regard. But very often I come across clients who are outwardly very successful and financially abundant… but spiritually bankrupt. Many people are so focused on the prize that they will do anything to get there, forgetting to stop along the way to play, reflect, say thank you, and smell the roses.

If we lived in a world where the only thing that mattered in fact was your intention, your conscience, your kindness, or your faith, how would you rank? What qualification would you give yourself in the school of life?

The same principle applies in feng shui. It’s not so important that your house looks beautiful, but how it came to be. Have reverence when cleaning. May you have joy when decorating. That you smile while you rearrange yourself. Focus instead on how you’re BEING, instead of everything you’re DOING… and you’ll be doing great!

4. “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”

We tend to make decisions about our lives in terms of physical well-being over spiritual well-being. We want to live a long life, and we have doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to support those goals. But what if we were just as tenacious with our own joy and laughter? What if we fought for meaning and love? What would happen if we did anything to feel passion, pleasure and fun every day?

The desire for longevity is based on fear. The other is based on love. How can you start living a long and LOVING life? Bringing even the slightest glimmer of lightness into your day will do much more for your health and longevity than a visit to the doctor…

5. “An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all mankind.”

When clients come to me frustrated or depressed, it is usually because they have shifted their perspective inward, wallowing in the details of their own lives. I’ve been there many times myself, as the human brain has a sneaky way of putting each of us at the center of our own little Universe. And while that seems like a great thing, it can also wreak havoc.

When we shift our focus to others, we not only gain the experience of helping a neighbor, but we also realize that we are not alone, others share the same struggles (or often worse, and that the things we are fixed might not really be that important after all.

This outward focus can also bring a deep sense of fulfillment. When we live only for ourselves, a void develops. By holding on to what we know to be true and shining our lights for others to see, we not only enrich our own lives, but we make a difference in the world, and this kind of experience always reaps much greater rewards than what comes with it. They do it solely for our own gain. When you learn to light another’s lantern, you are also lighting your way.

6. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

We tend to see ourselves as individuals, separate from the whole. We care about our own needs, our own injustices, our own struggles, and our own desires. But if you look around you, we are all completely interdependent. Hundreds of people have likely touched every morsel of food, item of clothing, or car you drive. Unless we are living off the grid, every move we make is linked to many other people.

The same interconnectedness is found at the interpersonal level. Every time you meet another person, you make an impact, be it positive or negative. Every smile, grimace, compliment or hug affects your home, your community… and eventually, the planet. Only when we begin to see each other as united, as cells of a greater being, like ourselves, will we experience peace on the entire planet. Let it start with you.

7. “We must focus not only on the negative expulsion of war but on the positive affirmation of peace.”

Dr. King expresses here a very important principle in the manifestation of any dream. Anything we focus on gets bigger, and unfortunately we have a media that focuses on scandal, crime, violence and poverty. Take a look at your own life, your own struggles… Have the things that worry you the most happened? Are the challenges you face the ones you have reflected on?

Also take a look at your wins. Were they things you talked about, dreamed about, or wrote about?

This week take a look at your wish list. How can you keep your eyes on THAT prize and less on your worries? Where can you live “as if” your dreams have already come true, instead of complaining about your displeasures? Where can you find room to improve and take loving steps to revel in all that is good?

8. “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal search for easy answers and half solutions. Nothing hurts more than having to think for some people.”

So… are you a follower or a leader? Do you take as true what everyone tells you… your parents, the newspapers, the priests and the politicians? Have you taken the time to tell yourself what you think? Have you placed your hand on your own belly and sat in that silence, listening to the quiet wisdom within? Did someone once tell you that you weren’t pretty enough? Smart enough? Creative enough? Motivated enough? High enough to have what you really want?

If so, where can you start to take back your power and find your own voice and set your own path? Where can your spirit begin to whisper in your ear? Where can you find your own beautiful answers?

9. “I have a dream that my four young children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

In a world filled with flashy cars, high-profile celebrities, plastic surgery, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s easy to lose sight of the deeper aspects of the human spirit. When we judge ourselves or others by appearance, status, age, ability, or wealth, we lose sight of the truly beautiful parts of each of our souls. Every person on this planet has a story, they have hopes, they have fears and they have a heart if we open our eyes to see it.

If you are only walking on the surface of life, I challenge you to dig deeper. Take time out of your busy schedule to make eye contact, flash a smile, or offer a helping hand to your neighbor. Stop to ask your children what their life is like, what scares them and what they long for. Ask your partner what they want most from you, and ask your neighbors how you can help.

Living solely on the surface makes life very fragile. So dig, dig, and dig some more. There you will find the gold…

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