tapered candles burning, and some are extinguished.
Image by massimo sanna 

Narrated by Marie T. Russell.

Watch video version on YouTube.

If we strictly listen to the media and news channels, we would think there is never any reason to celebrate life. From those sources, we hear about murders, corruption, and all kinds of frightening and hurtful events. Where in those stories is there anything to celebrate?


When we look at life and its multitude of small (and big) miracles, we realize there is a lot to celebrate. And, what we focus on expands... in other words, if we keep looking at the cliff wall, all we will see is the cliff wall. On the other hand, if we look at the flowers and beauty of nature, we see the beauty that is often hidden in plain sight.

This reminds me of a Buddhist parable about a monk who is faced by a fierce tiger. The monk backs away, knowing that just behind him is a cliff and just below that cliff is the sea. He chooses to lower himself over the cliff on a thick vine. As he does, he is filled with gratitude that the vine can hold him.

After his prayer, the monk looks over and sees, growing through the rock on the cliff, a vine with one bright, red strawberry.  He looks up to see the tiger snarling at him and looks down to see the waves leaping and lurching below him. And then the monk plucks the strawberry from its vine and puts it into his mouth, savoring the sweetness. He chose to focus on the good that was present in that moment, rather than on the possibility of "bad" that was in the future.

Let's shift our focus to what we have to celebrate. This does not mean we ignore the things that need fixing (or the tiger growling at us), but it does mean we don't make negativity the only thing we think of and talk about.

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Let's start looking for the good news, the happy circumstances, the love-filled and encouraging events. The more we look for those moments, the more of them we will see, and the more of them we will create.


Goals and dreams are something to celebrate. Even though they are not yet manifested, they are in the realm of our potential. Whether it has to do with a new health routine, a new attitude, or a new goal, determination is what will keep you going when the going gets tough.

There will be challenges along the way, times when you may doubt yourself and want to quit. This is when you need to have determination in order to continue in the direction of your dreams, and to hold on to whatever decision you've made for yourself. 

In order to "feed" your determination, remind yourself of the "why" of your choices, of your goals, of your visions -- and be grateful for the opportunities that surround you. Your "why" is your motivation and it will assist you in staying on the path you have chosen.

Gratitude helps you recognize each small success along the way. In order to persist in whatever path we have chosen, whatever new attitude or behavior we are adopting, we need motivation, gratitude, and determination. 

The Underbelly

It may not seem appropriate to celebrate the darkness of life. Yet, the dark is a needed part of life. In nature, night is an essential part of the growth process, and so it is with humans. Sometimes the dark serves to remind us of the alternate, sometimes it is a needed balance point, and sometimes it carries a life lesson.

The "dark side" of us may have been part of our survival mechanism, a way of protecting ourselves from what we perceived was "against" us. Yet, it behooves us to periodically reexamine our "underbelly" and decide if our "dark" manifestations still serve us: the automatically-triggered anger, the feelings of low self-worth, the chatter of the inner critic, etc.

Both dark and light serve a purpose. And at this time, the darker sides of our expression need to be brought out to the light and accepted for what they have contributed. Then we get to decide if they still have a role to play in our lives.


Attaining harmony with ourselves and with those around us is a worthy goal. Harmony includes many aspects: unconditional love, inner peace, and acceptance of others as they are. When we are in harmony with all, we experience bliss. There is no conflict, no power struggle, no resentment. Harmony is attainable when we let go of the ego and of own petty demands and behaviors. 

Harmony is the perfect combination of voices, of visions, and of actions. When we remain in tune with our inner guidance, we are walking on the path of harmony as our inner guidance always has the greatest good as its essence. 

Harmony in life is like harmony in song... it is uplifting and regenerating and it is truly something to celebrate


We all have energy. It's like the hours in a day -- we all have 24 hours. And the secret to happiness is how we use those hours, just as in how we use our energy. You can use energy (as well as time) wisely and joyfully, or you can squander it and let it slip through your fingers. 

A reserve of energy lives within each one of us, but we may be draining it through living up to someone else's expectations and not honoring our true self. We can also zap our energy due to the environment we live in, the foods and drinks we put in our body, and of course, the thoughts we allow in our mind. 

Energy can be replenished by wise actions such as harmonious thoughts, healthy diet, and adequate sleep. Doing things that we love, and doing things for the people we love, is also a method of refilling our energy tank. The positive energy and thoughts we send out into the world are returned to us ten-fold. 

No Turning Back

There may be some confusion between these two attitudes: "acceptance" or "not accepting the way things are" and choosing to change them. I find that the best way for me to understand and practice these concepts is presented in the introductory lines of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

I often say that "I won't take no for an answer". What this means for me is that I believe and trust that everything is possible, that things can and will change. If I have a goal, I believe I will attain it. When I meet someone, I believe they are good. When I have an experience, "good" or "bad", I believe it is for my highest good.

But, once I insist and persist with determination in changing something, I may come to the point where I have to accept that I am in a situation that cannot be changed -- at least not by me. So, for me, the order of the actions in the Serenity Prayer is a bit different: before acceptance comes having the courage to change things or "not taking no for an answer"... And then, if things don't change in the way I envisioned them, the wisdom to discern if it is time to let go and and accept what is -- or turn over the situation to someone who can create the change. 


To release something is to set it free. We may think of this in terms of animals that were captured and then set free. But we may also think of it as releasing ourselves from limitations, old patterns, beliefs, goals that are no longer valid for us, etc. It can also pertain to relationships that have served their time, their purpose, and need to be set free.

We can also release and set free our inner child, that original loving being that radiates love to all it encounters. Rather than restrain our spontaneity, hide our originality, and repress our intuition, let's release our inner child, our inner self, our inner light, to shine on the world around us.

We are the change that is needed... and the change starts within, and once we release and express our higher selves, we give others the permission to do the same. 

Article inspired from:

Touched by a Horse Inspirational Deck

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card deck cover art: Touched By a Horse Inspirational Deck (Whispers from a Horse's Heart) Cards  by Melisa Pearce (Author), Jan Taylor (Illustrator)Through a lifelong relationship with horses and an extensive background as a psychotherapist, Melisa Pearce has created a fun and easy way to learn about ourselves through our interactions with horses. Inspired by the bold equine paintings of artist Jan Taylor, Melisa translated what the paintings portrayed and intuitively wrote the "message" the horses were expressing.

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About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com