Decide to be happy today…

November 14, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used a couple of quotes that seem to fit together and which lead to my thoughts about the topic.

“The world of the happy is quite different from that of the unhappy.”  (Ludwig Witherspoon)

“We are about as happy as we make up our mind to be.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

Do you know someone who seems always to be unhappy? How about someone who seems to be happy all the time? Which would you rather be around today? Why?

The first quote that Jack used gives you the best clue about why you might choose to be around the happy person – their world is a happy, pleasant place to be. There are smiles and laughter and good feelings that are contagious; whereas the dark world of the unhappy person is foreboding and full of frowns and tears and sorrow – not a pleasant place to be. The two worlds are different and those who choose to abode in it with them are impacted by that difference.

So, the choice is to be dragged down into an unhappy world or to be lifted up in joy by a happy environment.

It is now important to understand what Lincoln said. You have the choice to make each morning about which world you will live in that day and which world you will let the public see. Your world, and your day, will be quite different, depending upon which choice you make.

You may retort, “That’s easy for you to say, you aren’t facing the problems that I have today.” Before you start sharing that pity party routine, let us establish that you are correct that no one else has exactly the same challenges facing them as you do. However, there are also people facing much worse situations and problems than you have; so, you can start by being thankful that you are not in their situations. That may lead you to realize that you should be thankful to be alive, so that you can deal with your issues. You are already one-step better off than the alternative and a step closer to a happy place.

Perhaps those two realizations will have already led you to thanking God for another day and for not being in a worse place; but, if not, take time now for that. While you are thanking God, ask for His help in facing your issues and the day. You might be surprised how fast God can put a smile on your face after you have said the little prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Your world will be different. You may not think of yourself as being happy. Perhaps you feel that you are just less unhappy. That’s OK. It will show on your face and in how you interact with others. You might be surprised how much more people want to interact with you when they see you as happy, rather than seeing a sourpuss. People would much rather interact with a Cheerful Cherise  than with a Debbie Downer.

A side benefit of deciding to be happy, rather than down, is that more people will also be willing to help you with your problems. The reason is that many people tend to avoid an unhappy person, so they never get to know you well enough to offer help. Whereas, people who have encountered a happy person and gotten to know them want to help you stay happy, so they offer help.

So, take Lincoln’s advice and make up your mind to be happy today. Take the time to thank God for all that He has already done for your and ask Him for His help with the issues that you are currently facing. Then put on a smile and head out into a happy world. It’s a better and more helpful place to spend the day in.

Decide to be happy today!


Don’t imprison yourself…

November 12, 2019

In a post to his blog recently, Jack Freed used this quote from Lady Gaga – “Fame is prison” He went on to relate that Gaga can no longer enjoy life in public because she is always hounded by fans or paparazzi. In a sense, her fame has served to imprison her.  Almost all starts come to that conclusion, once they have achieved the fame that they so fervently chased for years. Some have found that going out in disguise, especially in big cities like New York, is still possible.

Most of us will never be famous, so we need not worry about the problems that Lady Gaga and other stars have; however, many create a prison of sorts for themselves based upon just the opposite cause – anonymity. Being anonymous is especially easy if your move to a new town or area. It is also relatively easy to become anonymous if you are a shut in. Over time, people forget about you and you may start to forget about other people. You have imprisoned yourself, somewhat by choice.

People with whom I talk who volunteer for the Meal on Wheels program that delivers meals to shut-in senior citizens tell me that the recipients often talk their heads off during the delivery, because the Meals on Wheels person may be the only person that they ever see. That is sad, but not unusual and not limited to just those shut-in seniors.

Many people, of any age, imprison themselves by remaining anonymous in their communities. They may get out of the house to go to work and back, but never seem to have time to meet anyone local. In this modern age of air-conditioned houses and lawn services to mow the lawn, it may even be rare to see them outside. That sometimes leads to the stories that we see on the news about a person dying and their bodies not being discovered for days or weeks. They were anonymous and thus not missed.

It is easier than you think to end your anonymity, without flipping over to the problem that Lady Gaga pointed out. You don’t have to become famous, you just have to be engaged in your community. Going to church is a great start. Church people tend to be friendly and you will quickly make new friends. Volunteer in the community. There are also tons of volunteer opportunities in every community – things like driving for Meal on Wheels or perhaps serving as a docent in a local museum. Join local organizations. All communities have local chapters of clubs like Rotary International, the Lions Club, the local Chamber of Commerce (you can be an associate member, even if you don’t have a business), the local society for the arts, and many more. Find a club or organization that focuses upon something that you are interested in, join and get involved. Many clubs or organizations may have members who are willing to pick you up and drive you to and from meetings, so even “shut-ins” can participate.

All of those ideas and more require that you not only join whatever organization it is; but also, that you attend meetings, volunteer for events and otherwise commit your time and efforts to the organization. The side benefit is that you meet other people and you are no longer anonymous. You have freed yourself from that prison.

The bottom line is that you hold the key to the prison of anonymity that you may have built for yourself. Get yourself out there and meet people. Have a great day in the crowd.


Sleepless in Seattle and elsewhere…

November 9, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog had this advice – “Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.”  (Philip Dick) 

Good advice, but hard to implement. I had a recent night of fitful sleep as I tried to search for the solution to an upcoming matter. During that process, I also recalled this advice and started thinking about what it is that keeps me, and perhaps others, up at night in search of solutions. While I occasionally spend a restless night trying to solve problems involving things (perhaps a repair issue with the house or a problem with a car), more often than not the matters that really keep me up at night involve people. That is especially true in situations where I imagine that a confrontation of some sort will occur.

I don’t think anyone likes confrontations, but sometimes they are unavoidable. I recall several sleepless nights leading up to the firing of an employee. All sorts of things run through my mind as I played out scenario after scenario in my imagination about the upcoming confrontation. In the times in which we live , there are some pretty bizarre scenarios that are not out of the question and I ran through each of them. One can conjure up the same kind of anxiety and fear (and sleepless nights) for breakups of relationships. What will you say and how will they react? Play that out in your mind a few times and you will begin to see the endless possibilities. There are many examples of the kinds of matters that can take over our minds at night and keep us awake.

I do not claim to have discovered or invented a way to prevent this from happening. However, I have developed a technique for quieting my mind when this does happen. Unfortunately, it usually takes me a while to remember to use the technique, so I still spend some time wrestling with the imaginary demons of the night before I try to quiet my mind.

The first step is to realize what you are doing. You are trying to create a solution for something that hasn’t happen yet and which is most likely out of your ability to control (unless avoidance is seen as a solution). I also try to quickly think back on similar past events, which helps me realize that I got through them OK. Perhaps they were unpleasant; but, as I now like to remind myself, “nobody died”. Sometimes that is enough to pause the mental problem solving process long enough to go to step two.

Step two I have shared here a few times. It is the leap of faith that starts by saying the little prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” It is giving yourself a break, by giving the problem to God. If you feel the need to keep more ownership of the problem then pray for God’s guidance and help dealing with it, and put your trust in the fact that His help will be there when you need it.

Step two sounds simplistic, but it works, if you have faith in God. In our real world we may take issues all the way to the Supreme Court – the highest level of authority in our land. In the world of faith, which we cannot see or fully understand, God is the highest level of authority, so taking it to Him is as far as you can go. Trusting in His help is what we call faith and as Bob Dylan said in his song Precious Angel – “Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t neutral ground”.

So, have faith. Give your problem to God.

Problem solved. Now go to sleep.


Show your love with actions –

November 3, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “The hardest thing is to take less when you can get more.”  (Kin Hubbard)

When we are young, it seems to be even harder not to grab for more, more, more. I remember as a youth sitting there trying to eat all that I had taken at dinnertime and my mom’s admonition that my eye’s were bigger than my stomach. I can also recall going to those “all-you-can-eat” smorgasbord places and gorging myself. Eventually, my stomach became bigger than my eyes, but that’s a story for another post. I did become more able to moderate things as I grew older and that helped get rid of most of the bigger gut.

I suppose it’s quite natural for the young to lack any sense of moderation, much less be ready to make conscious efforts of sacrifice. Sharing is something that needs to be taught to young children and begins the learning about moderation and sacrifice in life. Later, and often in church, the young are taught to give a portion of what they have to help those less fortunate than them. So, perhaps today’s quote could be modified to read, “The hardest thing is to keep less when you can give more”.

We have just kicked off our stewardship drive at my church, which is our annual church donations appeal. This is certainly one of those things to which my modified quote could be applied. Each year we get a little card that shows us what percentage of our income we should consider giving to the church. It also highlights the concept of tithing, giving 10% of what you earn to the church. That’s where most people have the hardest time keeping less and giving more. Yet, there are people who do that and who find that they get along just fine on the 90% that they keep. In fact, many say they’ve never been happier or felt like they had more than when they giver that 10% back to God first.

I can’t claim to be there yet, but as I consider how much I can increase my giving to the church this year, I find it less difficult to keep a little less and more fulfilling to find a way to give a little more. God has provided for my family and me and I have become less focused upon what more I can get in life and more concerned about what more I can do for others in life. Giving to the church is just one channel through which we can all give back and help others. Volunteering with various non-profit groups in the community is another.

Find a way in your life to keep less and give more, even if it is only of your time. I think you’ll find life to be much more satisfying at the end of the day (or of life) when you spend more time giving than taking. The bible tells us –

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18

Feel the Love of God, take action and give generously of your possessions and your time.


Don’t dis the gruntled people that you meet…

October 29, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Word blog, Jack talked about the fact that “gruntled” is an actual word in its own right, even though we almost always use it in the negative sense (as in disgruntled) as a way to describe unhappy people.

The dictionary tells us –

grun·tled

/ˈɡrən(t)ld/

adjective

HUMOROUS

  1. pleased, satisfied, and contented.

I suppose that you could greet someone who approaches with a smile by saying, “You look particularly gruntled today.” They probably wouldn’t know how to react to that.

How do you react to gruntled people when you encounter them during your day? Is your reaction one of trying to bring them down – sort of what the heck are you so happy about? Or do you immediately share their gruntleness and smile back? After all, isn’t it more pleasant to be happy with them than to force them to join you in whatever state of disgruntlement that you were in?

Perhaps, if you keep the word “gruntled” in mind it will help you take the higher road. It is pretty hard to say in your mind, “you look very gruntled today” and not smile or chuckle to yourself. If nothing else, you can congratulate yourself for knowing a unique word to describe their happy state.

So, don’t dis the gruntled people that you meet today. Join them in their gruntled state and have a better day because of it.

Be happy…be gruntled.


Faith is the foundation that hope builds upon

October 28, 2019

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this little quote – “A life without faith in something is too narrow a space to live.”  (George Woodberry)

I have a feeling that I could have inverted the words in my headline for today by stating that hope is the foundation upon which faith builds, but I really believe that faith comes first. Out of faith grows the hope for a better life. Out of faith comes the courage to try. And, it is faith that give us the strength to try again in the face of failures.

Faith embraces the idea that there is something working in our lives that is bigger than us and stronger than us. Faith requires that we accept something that we cannot see or touch, yet it touches us in every aspect of our lives and “sees” everything that we do. Faith requires that we believe, rather than understand; that we accept what happens, rather than futilely fighting; that we trust, rather than demand; and, that we openly accept God in our lives, rather than stubbornly rejecting His help.

 Once the foundation of faith is laid down in your life, you can begin to hope with a sense of confidence that everything will turn out all right. You may get what you hoped for in ways that you never imagined. You may begin to see that underlying almost all hopes and dreams is the desire to be happy in life. Having a strong faith at your core may allow you to be happy with yourself and you may discover that little else matters. You might come to understand that you are living your dream already and that your hopes have been answered. Little in the material world matters much, once you have a firm faith as your foundation.

So don’t just hope for a better day, have faith that you will have a better day. .  In Hebrews 11:1 we are told, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Have conviction, have faith, have hope and have a great week ahead.


Stay focused…

October 24, 2019

I seem to be stuck on the topic of finding a way to move on in life, but it is important enough to write about again.

A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back used this quote – Fix the problem, not the blame – Unknown

As I scan the posts to various social media sites that I belong to, the advice in that little quote seems to go unheeded most of time. Perhaps it is just human nature to try to find out who, or what, to blame for whatever happens, especially things that happen to us. Obviously, it can’t be my fault, so I need to find someone else to blame for any misfortune that befalls me.

An unfortunate side effect of losing focus on the problem itself, in the search for someone or something to blame, is that we often don’t benefit from learning from the problem. Instead of increasing our wisdom and making sure that the same thing doesn’t happen again, we focus instead on finding a scapegoat upon which to heap the blame for our misfortune. This exonerates us from taking responsibility for placing ourselves in the situation that caused the problem and for the poor decisions that we may have made during the incident. The knee-jerk reaction that “It’s not my fault” almost always leads us to find someone else, or something else, to blame.

So stop yourself, the next time you go into reaction mode by asking “who did this to me” or “what caused this” and turn your focus instead to “what can I learn from this?” There is another saying that applies here –

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. – Brian Tracy

A big part of mastering the changes that occur in your life is keeping focus upon the problems and not on trying to fix the blame for things. Don’t waste your time on blame fixing, you’ve got enough to do to controlling how you react and working to fix the problem.

Besides eliminating wasted time, you may find that staying focused on the problem makes it much easier to just put things behind you and move on with life, when you don’t look for someone or something to blame. It happened, it’s done, it’s nobody’s fault, what can you learn from it? Then get on with life.

Have a wonderful and focused day!