If you ask me the single greatest practice to cultivating a more beautiful life–the one thing that can and will make a tremendous difference in your life–my answer is simple. No spiritual rocket science here. It’s thanksgiving.
Giving thanks, practicing gratefulness, saying “Thank You” and living a life of appreciation radically changes your outlook on life. Even in tough times, thankful people are resilient people. I know it’s hard to be thankful when you’re being body-slammed and crushed in a BlackFriday dog-pile for a deeply-discounted big-screen TV. But cultivating thankfulness on a daily basis has incredible health benefits in many ways…
Going Above and Beyond to Create Beauty for Others
Ugh! Company was coming and the patio at The Grove still wasn’t finished. I still had a ton of dirt to move, but no one to help. Krista and I always say that ‘company is a good motivator’ for cleaning our home moments before guests arrive. I fondly call my wife the “relocation specialist.” She has the innate ability to hide unsightly stacks of papers, clothes dumped by teenage boys, and other sundry items into closets, drawers and nearby parked cars. But for me, there was no hiding. Two days before our Saturday event, by all counts, I still had about four tons of dirt to move…
Yesterday, I had the privilege to be with friends at a beautiful cliff home in Laguna Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Over the course of a couple hours, we had many beautiful moments. It was a gorgeous day. We sat in comfortable chairs on my friend’s patio. We laughed, prayed and told stories. We talked about our dreams and vision for a film project we’re working on. Below us, waves crashed and we could see seals basking in the sun on a large rock right in front of us. Looking south, we could see all the way down the coastline to South Laguna and the fortress-like headlands of Dana Point. And if that wasn’t enough…
Kindness has an undeniable and solid architecture.
My daughter Ellie is studying architecture in Copenhagen this year. Though we miss her smile and easy-going personality, she’s having the time of her life traveling Europe, taking in all of its architectural wonders and sending us photos of her watercolor paintings of Copenhagen. Architecture major. Art Minor.
Yesterday, my wife and I skyped with Ellie. She led us through a photographic journey of her recent trip to the World Expo in Milan, Italy. Advancing from photo to photo from each country’s incredible architectural and design installations, Ellie gave us a personal tour of all her curated photos. She then told us a beautiful little story about her new haircut.
Last week, I was the grateful recipient of a bestselling author’s lavish generosity. A bit of back story is in order: My screenwriting co-author and I have been working on a project for several years now. As part of our research, we contacted a top expert on the life of one of our key characters. “Expert” is an understatement.
He is the leading authority on the subject matter who wrote an international bestseller. His research was meticulous. His travel extensive. His fame worldwide. His storytelling precise and compelling. Nobody knows more about our character than this guy.
You’re probably wondering, “Ok already, who is it?” I won’t mention his name because name-dropping irritates me. I will like you for who you are. Not for who you know. (A simple way for us to be generous to one another.) It’s enough to say this guy is a true professional; a researcher and writer with many book awards. His work speaks for itself…
Leap into your creative fears… the world needs your gift of beauty.
When was the last time you actually leaped into your fears? Like a cliff diver standing on the edge of a cliff with the water far below, when was the last time you really went for it by jumping with abandon?
Today you have the choice to embrace your God-given creativity or allow the fear of failure to paralyze you from fulfilling your creative calling. The world needs your gift of beauty. Don’t allow fear to knock you sideways into that deep ditch of procrastination, regret and self-loathing. You have fear because you’re human. Don’t make fear your enemy. Use it. Leverage it as a force for good. Leap into your creative fears and see what happens. You might be surprised at what you discover…
Cultivating gratitude is a sure path to happiness.
If you’re in search of greater happiness, cultivating gratitude is a sure way to immediately change how you view yourself, your life and your circumstances. In my conversations with artists and people who want to bring greater beauty, meaning and purpose into their lives, a key question I often ask is, “How are you cultivating gratitude in your life?” It’s a question that often turns heads because it’s not what they expect to hear. And that’s just the point.
Cultivating gratitude is so subtle, it’s easily missed. Practicing gratitude is one the most important spiritual practices I can think of to radically transform how you view your immediate circumstances. Cultivating gratitude really works and here’s why…
Are you stumped? You have more options than you think you do.
Yesterday was Labor Day and I exerted my best to put the word ‘labor’ into the day. It was a national holiday, but no picnic in my backyard. After 19 years in the same home, we’re finally making some changes to the backyard. Thanks to the California drought, we’re swapping out half of our dog-destroyed back lawn for decomposed granite and patio stone work. On a small side slope next to my neighbor’s backyard, I’m moving my favorite plumeria trees by taking the larger ones out of terracotta pots and plunking them down on the slope.
But to make room for beauty, I first needed to get rid of a large, ugly tree stump. The thing had been lurking there for years in the corner, hidden by newly-removed bushes. Not causing anyone pain or harm. Yet. Submerged in the dirt, it was an arborist’s nightmare waiting to take out some-overconfident sop like me.
If you want to take a journey to extraordinary, take a moment to watch this inspiring video about the generosity of one person impacting the life of double-amputee Ironman triathlete, Scott Rigsby. The power of generosity and the amazing stories that flow from it can truly lead you on a journey to extraordinary. How? There is something about generosity that causes a seismic shift in people and the difficult circumstances they face. Generosity inspires hope, courage, and perseverance.
Crickets. That’s all you’ve been hearing lately from me. The crickets started cricketing last summer and they’ve been buzzing for quite a few months now. (My last post, Great Power and Beauty Await You, was way, way back in July…cricket season!) For me, it’s been a question of focus. A question of focus with my art, life, faith and creativity. I’ve simply been focused on larger projects requiring greater time, energy, faith and focus than ever before. I know many of you will benefit from them, but since many of you have been long and loyal friends to this Art, Life & Faith blog, I am sorry for my silence. It really has been a question of focus… of where I believe God has uniquely made me to make my best contribution. I’m also learning a lot about my limitations. What I can and can’t do. And the reality that I can’t do it all.
Jeff Walker, a favorite author and market strategist I follow, recently wrote about focus in his book Launch. “Your most scarce resource is focus, ” Walker writes… and here’s why!