Books, Live

The Gifts of Change: Spiritual Guidance for Living Your Best Life – Marianne Williamson

November 8, 2014
Marianne Williamson the author of The Gifts of Change

You know when things keep reappearing in your life? And you know you need to look into it deeper?

Marianne Williamson was one of those things that kept popping up. I kept hearing Marianne’s name mentioned by other people I was reading, viewing and stalking. Then I finally got my hands on The Gifts of Change: Spiritual Guidance for Living Your Best Life and now can’t wait to read my way through her whole works.

 

The Gifts of Change focuses on moving from living with a consciousness that’s fear based, towards a life based on love.

 

Marianne Williamson

Marianne is a well regarded spiritual teacher who believes we can all be spiritual healers. Marianne’s spiritual journey started its ascend when in 1978 she did A Course in Miracles. The spiritual psychotherapy course completely changed her perspective about how we’re living (or not living) from a place of love with inner peace and forgiveness.

Marianne continued to develop her spiritual connectedness over the next 30 plus years to offer us a wise view of the world with relatable examples from various successes and trials from her life. She’s now in her 50s and still speaking at affordable donation based events around the world.

Her main mission all boils down to the idea that we should live from a place from love so that we put love out into the world, and we get love back.

If you surrender yourself to receive miracles in your life and expect them in your life, then that’s what you’ll see. If you expect the worst to happen, guess what you’ll see?

Marianne has some amazing quotes that you most likely will have heard before:

Magic happens when you tell the universe what you want it to do for you; miracles happen when you ask how you can be of service to the universe.”

And of course:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  Marianne Williamson

Full quote at the end of post.

The Gifts of Change

The Gifts of Change fittingly explains the breathtaking simple wonders of life and creation, then contrasts those wonders with explanations of absurd commonalities like living without appreciating all that we can.

You can gain a lot of insight from Contents Pages of books and of course The Gifts of Change delivers the goods. The introduction adeptly named The Challenge to Grow starts the reoccurring theme throughout the book of positive improvements, and then the book continues with transformative chapters – From Negative Thinking to Positive Love and Living in the Past and Future to Living in the Present.

 

One Being of Billions

Many of Marianne’s statements voiced what many of us feel being one of billions of people crawling on Earth. I was hooked early on the book on after she said, “I live with the same sense of disconnect that most of us feel, between the glories of love and nature and the mess we have made of the world.”

Life is beautiful. There’s no doubt about it.

Simply being able to breathe is a privilege, let alone eating nutritious food, having access to clean water, shelter and so on. Life becomes a bit messier when we’re bombarded by advertisements that make us feel unworthy, news stories of people around the world we can extend our love to and situations we have no control over.

 

View of Australia and Planet Earth from space showing the vastness of the population

There’s simply one breath for each one person in each body. There are seven billion people on the planet and we all have our purpose.

 

Something Bigger than just Ourselves…. Like God?

The Gifts of Change discusses how we all are part of the vast universe and we need to surrender our plans or goals to the pre-existing plan. We can aim for things that we feel a deep sense of meaning for or those that come from a divine source within and outside of us, but our focus should be on our way of being throughout life rather than particular situations we can aspire to have.

Marianne says, “We’re always wondering whether we should do this or that when from a spiritual perspective what’s most important is not what we do so much as what we become.” Having goals is fantastic to help you improve your station in life, but if we’re focused on what we have and not on our way of being, we can still feel a great dissatisfaction with life even when we reach our goals.

Marianne reiterates throughout the book that we need to be authentic and let our true selves shine with thoughtful comments such as, “All of us are actors in a great unfolding drama, and until we dig deep, there will be no great performances.” We need to have higher focus of what’s going on inside of us so that we listen to our intuition or gut feelings. When we connect with our feelings or inner guides, we make decisions that align with our values which means we will live wholesome lives. Only when we are true to ourselves can we ensure that we’re loving in a way that’s working to be closer to our true selves, and as Marianne says, closer to God.

 

Cartoon Jesus offering peace to all

Whatever you conceive to be your higher power, appreciate that there is something greater than ourselves.

 

God Himself

A kind word of warning for those who shy away from religion and God Himself (cough, cough = me), Marianne speaks constantly about God and His plan.

Although not in the sense that you would think.

Marianne speaks of God as the supreme being that created us, gave us our gifts in life and connects us to the rest of the world. She explains that there’s a universal understanding of the higher power of creation no matter what religious orientation or titles you use.

For me, whenever Marianne mentioned God, I just interpreted God as the Universe. There’s clearly some divine at work in our lives which keeps us wondering and it’s fascinating that no one knows exactly where we came from.

 

Over Complications

Ever live through a day then realise at the end that it’s flown by without you realising?

The Gifts of Change point out holes in our overworked and constantly busy society – “We keep moving as a way of not dealing with something. If we move fast enough, perhaps we’ll all just forget how much we hurt.” I thoroughly enjoyed Marianne’s accurate assessments of how many of us can seem unappreciative when approaching life and problems as “we’re the only generation in the history of the world that wants to reinvent society over white wine and brie.”

It reminded me of how complicated we can all make life – as if it’s really about the minor details and not about living in a place of love. Sometimes, a house isn’t just a home with shelter. Homes can become a showroom to store our many possessions where everything down to the skirting boards are made to look their best. Sometimes, a wedding isn’t just a celebration of love. A wedding can become a social parade where everything down to the type of paper on the personalised table cards are planned. Making your home and wedding beautiful is a wonderful thing but when we cloud our focus with the details, it detracts from what we should be investing our time and efforts into.

Life isn’t about looking your best, although that does help in some situations.

Life is about sharing love and being true to yourself.

Marianne explains human’s primary functions clearer than I’ve ever heard before:

“Our primary function is to stand in the light of who we are and become the people that we are capable of being. From that, all good will follow. And we step into that light in any moment we choose. When our hearts are closed to love – when we’re judgmental, withholding, unforgiving – we are literally not being ourselves. We are, in those moments, choosing to be hostage to the ego rather than hosts to god.”

We have to take responsibility and choose our own thoughts, feelings and actions to ensure we live in a place of love. And to ensure we make the most wholesome choices for our lives. Resisting the ego, complaining and laziness is hard. It does take awareness and daily work. But we have to constantly be aware of how we’re living so that we can live a more fulfilling and wholesome life.

 

 

Girl relaxing sitting on park bench

Make sure you take the time everyday to breathe deeply and appreciate the simple moments in life.

 

The Present is a Wondrous Present

There are so many sections of this book that are relatable. Marianne shows us how we can easily take our precious lives for granted. Here and now, if you’re reading this, that’s amazing. You’re a living, breathing, functioning human being who is privileged enough to be able to read and have access to the wonders of the internet! I think no one can be reminded enough to appreciate what we have here and now  – see my post on Gratitude here.

Marianne summarises the wasted feelings of living with a future mindset:

Now that my past self’s future is here, I regret wasting any time thinking about it at all when such a glorious present was available to me then. I didn’t realise at the time that the present was glorious, of course, I was focused on what I perceived to be lacking. And that’s the mind game that will continue forever if we allow it to. In the past, I didn’t realise how perfect things were, just as I don’t’ always realise how perfect they are now. If I had simply allowed myself to enjoy my life more, I would have ended up better off later on.”

For greater happiness, spend time appreciating what you have and simply being in the moment. Focus on the present rather than the things you cannot change in the past and the things you’re not sure are going to be created in the future.

 

What a Wonderful Connected Life

Marianne has a simple summary of peaceful living for us all. Sure be nice, but look beyond that to sit peacefully while connecting with others and the universal flow.

Our function, our happiness, and our purpose all emanate from the same point of power: our capacity to embody love in any given instant. And love is more than ‘being nice’. It is the surrender of a separate sense of self, a claim to the totality of life as part of ourselves. Knowing that we are part of a whole, we shift our perspective from a sense of individual identity to a sense of universal connection. It becomes impossible to act only for yourself when you know that yourself includes everyone.”

After discussing many insightful and reflective topics, Marianne gets straight to the point at the end of the book. There’s no sugar coating it – we simply know how to be better. We have to fulfill the loving actions we talk about and plan on doing, then we actually have to go ahead and live them. She says:

It’s time to graduate. Enough of us know spiritual principles now; we’ve read the same books and listened to the same tapes. It’s time to become the principles now, to embody them and demonstrate them in our daily lives. Until we do, we will not really learn them at the deepest level. They will not inform our souls or transform the world.”

As Ghandi would say, we need to BE the change we want to see in the world.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world quote by Ghandi

Demonstrate the values you’d like to see everywhere.

 

Change is the Gift of Life

Yes, Marianne knows that the world is a bit nuts in some places. We’re not going to help anything if we simply offer judgement and move on. We can’t physically, emotionally or financially help everyone in the world that’s suffering. But we can extend our love to them.

We can live in a place of love and we can bless all others in the hope that they live their lives from a place of love too.

The Gifts of Change reminded me to slow down, enjoy the journey, listen to my intuition, open myself up to love and flow with change.

If you read this book or have read this book, let me know what you think. If you’ve got a recommendation for me to read something else, definitely let me know. I’m currently on my second of Marianne’s book and she continues to share life and spiritual lessons.

 

Arguable, Marianne’s most famous quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 

Reflections

  • How do you ease into the flow of change?
  • What do you do to feel more connected with the universe?
  • What do you do when you notice you’re not living in a place of love?

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