I now know that the cause of my misery was lack of love. I lacked love from God because I shut him out. I lacked love and acceptance for self, others, and circumstances. No matter how much grace God offers, if you don't believe, you will never have it. Once I tapped into the love of HP, my healing journey began. Acceptance coupled with spiritual growth is the answer to all my problems. It's not always easy, but it is really simple; and like anything else, it becomes easier with practice, practice, practice.

I have been granted the gift of a new state of consciousness and being. This gift is available to anyone who wants it and I feel compelled to spread this message. The main problem is letting our emotions get in the way and run the show, which is not wise. I let mine drive for years, and they drove me off the road. We must be determined not to stay angry at people or situations. If somebody unjustly wronged you, don't get mad-get better. Otherwise, it's like holding on to a hot potato and allowing it to keep burning your hands. Don't let anyone or anything take up too much space in your head rent-free. As humans, we experience so much negativity that we let way too much of that in, and it's horrible. Yes, utterly horrible things happen to good people every day, and there are some terrible people out there indeed! We just don't need to focus on the negativity. We create our own reality; so naturally what we focus on magnifies in our lives.

Meditation is another life-changing tool that the AA fellowship introduced me to. Some of the benefits of meditation are as follows: it helps you to manage stress, connect to your purpose, lower your blood pressure, attain laser focus, heighten intuition, improve memory, increase your immunity, decrease inflammation, boost your happiness, expand your awareness, decrease anxiety and depression, and cultivate compassion. Need I say more? My favorite benefit is that it enables you to become fully present, free from the pain of the past and the uncertainty of the future. If the word "meditation" turns you off, you can still practice quiet time with deep breathing. This stillness will still serve you. You can also practice mindfulness, a form of meditation that can be done anywhere. Life itself becomes the meditation practice. Mindfulness equals awareness. It is a gift to be truly present. This is the direct opposite of taking your life for granted. When you take the time to be still, it positively affects all areas of your life, including the people around you.

Happiness is an inside job. Stop wasting time and money looking for happiness externally; it's not there. If you want physical health, go to the gym. If you want mental health go within. The silence manifests intuition and guidance. I looked for peace of mind in thousands of empty bottles, to no avail. Peace is already within us, and practicing stillness or meditation is the best way to access it. Meditation has helped me intuitively handle situations that used to baffle me. It has given me a moral compass, a "God guide," if you will. It makes me want to be a good person and always try to do the next right thing. I don't worry like I used to. Worrying is also a form of meditation-a very negative one.

We can all start over. It is possible for every one of us to live a life of higher purpose. It all starts with self-love, but most of us are unaware that we don't love ourselves. How could we possibly conceptualize that we lack self-love when we are so selfish and so self-obsessed that that we mistake it for love? With all of our selfies and self seeking ways, how could we not have self-love? What a glaring disconnection of epidemic proportions.

Sometimes we have to fall down to reprioritize what's important. Looking back at the pain, I see pivotal moments in my development. My faith was strengthened in the moments of uncertainty. When I felt uncertain, I learned to go to HP, and he gave me strength and wisdom. Complete and utter failure started my movement into something greater. Pain is a horrible part of the human experience and no one is immune. Pain led me from selfishness to compassion. It pains me to see the way people hurt themselves and one another. It is my theory that we first have to commit to self-love and self-care. Once we learn how to treat ourselves with respect and dignity, we can make the shift into treating one another better.