Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we ate one of the best turkeys ever (a combination of Trader Joe’s fresh fowl and my sister-in-law’s fine cooking skills), met my lifelong friend Ann’s delightful new husband, played countless games of Rook with Bob’s brothers and sister-in-law and decorated the Christmas tree according to the law of least effort.
Now it’s back-to-work Monday, it’s sleeting in central Iowa, there are no Rook games or turkey sandwiches in our immediate future, and the first words I heard on the news this morning were, “Three people were killed when…”
For this and other more cosmic reasons, I was a bit down in the dumps when I came downstairs to my office this morning. But there, on my desk, I found an issue of Spirituality & Health magazine from 2007, open to a story about hope.
I had no idea how it got there.
I was pretty sure it wasn’t an accident, though. Arranging for a story to show up on my desk at just the right moment sounds like the work of my spiritual guides, but I figured they might have needed some human hands to help. I asked Bob if he knew anything about it.
“Did you put a magazine on my desk?” I asked.
“I did,” he said. It turns out the magazine was on his desk, open to the story about hope, and he didn’t know how it got there, either. He figured I might have been responsible, so he thought he was returning it to me.
Apparently hope is a message for both of us.
The article, which includes a questionnaire based on the work of Anthony Scioli, Ph.D., starts by asking if you feel confident that you can achieve your goals, knowing that you’re supported by your own abilities and the help of others.
The questionnaire phrases this question in light of other people who inspire you and give you good advice, something I’m thankful for in my life. But more and more, I find myself turning to Spirit guides for direction I can trust—partly because they put magazine articles under my nose at the perfect moment. And largely because I know their guidance will be untainted by ego.
Plus, they usually come up with something I’ve never considered before.
For instance, when I asked Spirit this morning about the article on hope and where it came from, I said I was down in the dumps and asked what I was supposed to learn. This is what I heard:
We are here with you always, and we appreciate your asking, especially when you are “down in the dumps,” as you say. That’s an interesting phrase. You are truly in the dumps, in the scrap heap in your mind. It is a smelly and unhappy place to be, is it not? But, of course, the good news is that rising above the dumps and climbing out of the Dumpster is just a thought away.
It is important to feel supported even when you are not in control—to know that there is meaning and purpose and intention in your life even when you are flailing around in the Dumpster, wondering how you got there, even though deep down you know that you opened the lid and climbed in without anyone’s help.
That’s why I like talking to Spirit and my ever-directive guides.
They give me a different point of view, wake me up, educate me and sometimes give me a not-so-gentle thump on the side of the head.
For instance, when I wrote The Only Little Prayer You Need, I made a commitment to myself and Spirit. The book was essentially done, and the proposal was ready. “I’ll send them to Stephany, my agent, on Monday,” I promised, knowing that was the next essential step.
But at the end of that Monday, even though the email was ready to go, I sat in front of the computer and tried to argue my way out of it.
“What if Stephany doesn’t like it?” my ego asked. “What if she does? What if the book flops? What if it’s a huge success?”
My ego bounced around, as egos do, like a boxer trying to keep me off balance. But before long, I heard my guides’ voice cutting right through all that fear-based noise.
“Push the button and send it,” the voice said. It was clear and no-nonsense, unimpressed by the boxing match.
Oh, I thought. And I sent it.
“Thank you,” my guides said. “We’ll take it from here.”
And they did. They arranged for a foreword from the Dalai Lama and an endorsement from Desmond Tutu, and they’ve taken the book all over the world, healing fear right and left. My human hands were simply the ones that helped.
This perspective is part of Scioli’s excellent questionnaire, which includes questions about working with Spirit, such as “I pursue my goals hand in hand with God or a higher power” and “There is a higher intelligence that guides life in a positive direction.”
It turns out, Scioli says, that high levels of hope are the best predictors of well-being, and that we can cultivate hope, making it a way of life.
For me, that means sitting down daily and listening to what my guides have to say—especially when they wave an eight-year-old magazine from nowhere in front of my face. When I do, my day can be as effortless as decorating the Christmas tree. When I don’t, I may spend a good share of the day in the Dumpster.
So if you or someone you know is feeling a bit down in the dumps, remember that you can build hope by working with your guides. Ask them to put hope right in your path. Look for it to show up in unexpected ways. Trust that it’s there for you. And feel free to borrow this insight from today’s conversation with my guides:
Hope is not for the faint of heart. It’s something you can feel when you’re in the Dumpster, and when you’re not, but it will shine brighter when you’re in the darkness. If you’re standing in the light, it’s difficult to see more light. But when you’re in the darkness, the light becomes a beacon.
Isn’t that just the way of Spirit? To give us exactly what we need when we need it. And to remind us that, even when we forget, hope is there to lead us out of that Dumpster and back into the light once again.
Learn more about Anthony Scioli’s work at gainhope.com.