Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called Gratitude In All Things where he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.
What becomes obvious from Barack Obama’s latest best-selling book, A Promised Land, is that he wanted to tune into a bigger picture, something beyond his own ego and ambition. Over time, he aligned his own will with the will of the American people.
He learned to deeply listen to his constituents as well as to those from outside his reach. With his family and team behind him, he brought promise to those who believed in a humanity that is enhanced through a shared sense of pain and suffering.
As a strong 28-year-old, my brother John soldiered through his period of isolation with Covid-19 just before Christmas. He told me that the last few days were no joke: he had to separate himself from a house full of others, unlike some of his friends who had relative freedom to roam their apartment on their own.
I noticed that he was appreciative of the cups of tea, dinners and snacks that we fed him from the other side of the door. The bit of chat also helped him eventually return to full health and vigour.
What’s more, there is an opportunity to share in our joy. When we embrace our families and our flaws in a compassionate way – acknowledging our weaknesses, our areas for improvement, our desires for a richer life – we develop a sense of safety, security and homeliness.
We also form new neural pathways when we reinforce nourishing activities. Be it with Barack Obama or someone we live with, we can find peace beneath the storm this New Year. We can be vehicles of hope and change for the world.
Can I think of a time in my life when I had great self-belief? Can I think of someone who inspired me to be part of something bigger? Repeat ‘Yes We Can’ three times with conviction.
I draw from my American education at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Barack Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ presidential campaign to offer a short reflection and mantra exercise.