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A letter to a friend on his birthday
by Sam Harris

Happy Birthday. In this new year - I ask you to create the vision for what you want this year to be - for yourself, for those you love and for the world. It will affect everything you choose to do. Every day. Every action I take is reflection of what I want my world to be.

In this new year - be brave. Speak up against the wrongs you encounter. Neutrality gives voice to the oppressor, never the oppressed. Silence give a platform to the tormentor, never the tormented. Silence in the company of judgment justifies the act.

Be stronger than your fear or those who perpetrate fear. Investing in worry brings the subject of your fear into reality. Worrying is like praying for what you don't want.

We get to choose between love and fear every day - every moment. That's all there is. EVERYTHING comes from one of those two things. And we get to choose. We are creatures of free will.

Love knows no separation, no division, no hierarchy. Love sees us all as one.

There are those who will not agree. There are those who think that bigger bank accounts will stave off the demons. Bigger locks on our doors will protect us from the demons. And bigger guns will keep the demons out. When, in reality, fear of the demons is the demon.

There is nothing wrong with having money or being cautious or protecting ourselves - but when it is a solution to fear, it will never be enough.

So this year, motivate yourself to act out of what you desire, not what you are afraid of. In this new year, invest in how you want to feel, rather than in getting the things you think will make you feel good after you've gotten them.

If you want to diet, do it because it feels right and good to do something for yourself - to feel better, to look better, to be better, not because when you lose weight, someone will love you or you'll have a better job or your mother won't criticize you - and that will make you feel good. It is the process.

For those of us who love immediate gratification - the process of feeling good begins the moment we say "yes."

If you want to get your finances together, do it because it feels good to have order and well being - not because when you get your finances together you'll be able to buy the things that will make you feel good. It is the process.

It's all about the process - the ride - not the result. Choose the goal, get in action and let go of the result. When I choose the result, I don't have room for, nor can I see anything but my idea of the goal. And what's going to happen could be so much larger and bigger and better than what I think I want to happen. God's imagination is much bigger and better than mine. So just be in action toward the goal and let it take you wherever it may. If I say "yes" and go into the world - I don't know what's going to happen. But something is going to happen. If I say "no" I know what's going to happen - nothing. Do you want to stick with what you know and remain inactive - or jump into the unknown, where you are going to experience joy and sadness and love and loss and change and discomfort and growth and empowerment and activity and - life? This year - I choose "yes."

Everything we do is motivated from either wanting something we don't have or fearing that we will lose something we do have. This new year - unfurrow your brow. Stop coveting. Stop worrying about what you might lose… Or who you are if you don't get what you want - or think you are entitled to.

Keep your goals in mind but only as motivation for action - let the result be a surprise. Replace your fears and uncertainties with the accomplishment of living fully - daily. The small, seemingly unimportant tasks that make a life large.

This year, rather than praying for the result, pray for the wisdom and strength to live in peace. If I am praying to God to save the sick person or make the journey safe or let my team win, it infers that God can choose for someone to die, the plane to crash or the team to lose. My God isn't a puppeteer - my God is the peace and courage to do the right thing in the face of the challenge. I believe we have free will to think, live and act as we choose in any situation. And some of the greatest experiences of my life were a result of the humanity that I was able to immerse myself in due to great loss or sadness. It all depends on the choices I make. And with every one, I get to look back and say "Did I show up? Did I do the right thing? Or did I find a justification to take myself out of the experience? Was I giving or selfish? Loving or self-seeking? Of good purpose or manipulation?

In this new year - for those who swear every year (or every day) that you will stop drinking or smoking or eating poorly or whatever your thing is - and have come to believe that you are weak and powerless - that you fail every day - I offer to you that powerlessness is a powerful thing. Admitting I can't do something by myself is the most powerful choice I can make. My greatest moment of strength was the admission of defeat - that I wasn't, nor did I need to be, capable of inhuman willpower against my alcoholism. I am not a failure - I am a human being who needs other human beings and a God that I can rely on to provide the things I cannot provide myself. How about this for an idea - The reason you are on this planet is to help me - to help little 'ol me!! Everyone is here to help me! And I am here to help everyone else. Isn't that amazing? Let me say it again: my purpose on this planet is to help you - and your purpose is to help me. Changes things, doesn't it?

So - in this new year - Show love for others. Serve others as you can. Every day. Every day. When adversity comes, honor it. It is our opportunity to live right. Ask for help. When you ask for help, it gives another person an opportunity to do what they were born to do.

Every time you try to do something difficult on your own, you are cheating someone out of their purpose. And you are setting yourself up to have to do it over and over and over until you give someone else an opportunity to help you. And it works both ways - SEEK places where you can help another.

There is a phrase in my program that says "we seek progress, not perfection." I'd like to investigate the idea that "progress IS perfection."

Remember that there is no obstacle we can't give our way out of. Remember that you are never alone. Remember that we all have the same story, the same human gamut of emotions: Love, loss, joy, insecurity, anger, confusion, elation - it is only the details of our stories that differ - and they do not separate us - they simply enrich us.

Happy Birthday. Happy New Year. I wish you peace. I wish you growth. I wish you love. I wish for you all the things you need as you need them. And I am confident you will receive them - as you need them.

Have a great new year! Unless you have other plans.

Choose, "yes",
Sam

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