Give it away and you’ll get more back

October 26, 2021

A couple of quotes that I’ve collected just seemed to go together today –

“Happiest are the people who give most happiness to others.” — Denis Diderot, French philosopher.

“Happiness never decreases by being shared.” –   Gautama Buddha

Your own happiness is something that you can share without it decreasing at all. In fact, it will increase as it is reflected off those with whom you have shared it. Have you ever noticed that, when you make someone else happy, you feel happier too? First it makes you feel good to share your own happiness and then you get to see their happy reaction and that makes you feel even better.

One could substitute the word “love” for happiness in the above statements and they would still work and be true. In fact, happiness may just be the externalization of love – love of yourself and others. Love does not make one disgruntled, sad, or angry. Love brings a smile to one’s face, not a frown. So, when you share your happiness, you are sharing your love.

The observation by Gautama Buddha is also true of love. You do not decrease your happiness by sharing it with others.  In fact, sharing your love with others is additive because you also get to enjoy some of their love in return. In the case of marriages, the effect is even more pronounced, and the impact of that shared love is even greater than the sum of the two. That love grows exponentially when the marriage produces children.

The first thing is to get yourself in a happy frame of mind. A good way to do that is to start each day with a little prayer thanking God for giving you another day, accepting His forgiveness and love, and asking Him to be with you throughout the day. That ought to make you happy.

Then, see if you can share some of your happiness with others today. See if what the quotes above have stated isn’t true. Could you feel the happiness that you gave to others coming back to you? Did sharing your happiness with someone else make you feel any less happy; or did it in fact add to your happiness?

There’s a little children’s ditty that goes, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. You probably know the other verses too. Well, today let a new verse rattle around in your head, “If you’re happy and you know it, share with others.”

Try it, you’ll like it. Be happy. Share your happiness. Don’t worry about running out, you receive happiness back. Have a great and happy day!

Don’t be selfish with your time

August 4, 2021

A recent quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog caught my attention this morning – “There are many kinds of selfishness in this world, but the most selfish is hoarding time, because none of us know how much we have, and it is an affront to God to assume there will be more.”  (Mitch Albom)

Jack went on to write that the Jim Croce song “Time in a Bottle” is a favorite of his. I suppose that we all wish there were moments that we could capture and put in a bottle, to be enjoyed again and again as we wish.  Maybe the bottle is our mind, and those moments are stored there as memories.

What Mitch Albom was alluding to is not wasting or hoarding our time here on earth by assuming that we’ll always have more time to do the things that we are putting off sharing with others. The “I’ll see them tomorrow” mentality was put to a big test over the last year when too many people realized too late that there would be no tomorrow. Now instead of memories of that last visit with someone who has passed, they have only regrets that it never took place.  

Even if we have nothing else, we all have time that we can give to others. In some cases, it may be time in service to them, but in many cases it is just sharing time, acknowledging them and engaging with them.  As humans, we may have fond memories of event that occurred when we were alone, but our strongest and fondest memories always involve time and events that we shared with others. Search back through your memories and see if that isn’t true.

So time that you hoard to yourself actually ends up being blank spots in your memories, sort of like those times when on TV some commercial message is missed and the screen is just blank for s few seconds – no picture, no sound, no nothing, just a blank screen. Did you ever notice how long that seems to last to you?

It’s not that we all don’t need some breaks, some time to ourselves; but that is what sleep is for. Spending time by yourself while awake is just lost or wasted time when you could be interacting with others. Now, there are forms of interaction that may not involve spending face-to-face time with another person. Reading is one such form of interaction. Whether you realize it or not, you are interacting with the author while reading. You are trying to figure out what it is that they were saying when they wrote that story or article. You may carry out a complete mental dialogue with them in your mind while reading what they wrote. The same may be true when viewing a work of art – what were they thinking when they did this piece?

So, never assume that there will always be a tomorrow. Don’t be selfish with your time.  Make the best that you can of today. Interact with as many people as you can, get to know as many people as you can, help as many people as you can.  Give of yourself by sharing your time and you will receive some of their time back. Now that’s a good use of your time. God will be happy with you. Maybe He will give you more time to spend tomorrow. Don’t be selfish with it.

Don’t blow air kisses…

August 3, 2021

Pastor Freed used a quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, that made me think this morning – “Love is, or it ain’t.  Thin love ain’t love at all.”  (Toni Morrison) 

Actually, his daily quotes always make me think and I suspect that this is what Jack has in mind when he posts them. Freed used the example of thinning out soup by adding more water during the Great Depression and talked about spreading one’s love to thin or over too many people.

My thoughts turned to people who blow air kisses your way when they meet you or exchange those faux kisses to both cheeks. They are going through the motions of expressing love, but that is all that it is – just going through the motions. Don’t blow air kisses…

Many people blow air-kisses our way, but it is thin love that they are expressing, meaningless love at best. I think that is the important distinction. One can, in fact spread real love around to many people, but it is critical that it is real, heartfelt love and not just air kisses. I believe God gives us an infinite amount of that kind of love to share, just as He shares His infinite love for us. However, we will not have that feeling about everyone that we encounter. Why is that? Don’t blow air kisses…

Maybe the answer lies in thinking about love as an unconditional sharing of ourselves with others. The things that keep us from sharing our love unconditionally are our fears, pre-conceived notions, and prejudices. We allow these things build barriers around us that prevent our love from being shared. We blow air kisses to those people for whom we cannot seem to feel real love. Sometimes that may make us feel uncomfortable, but far too often we feel self-righteous about not sharing ourselves with “those people”.  Don’t blow air kisses…

We may rationalize our inability to share our love with certain people s a defensive mechanism to keep us safe. In fact, it is not so much keeping us safe from them as it is keeping us from sharing ourselves with them and experiencing the love that they have to share in return. We may feel safer for having withdrawn from them, but we are also poorer for having missed the experience of sharing love with them. Don’t blow air kisses…

Perhaps we can make a better effort to overcome our fears and prejudices by asking God to take away those fears and allow us to experience with others the unconditional love that He shares with us. We may never get to that level of unfettered love with all other people, but our lives will be so much richer if we can get a few more of those prejudices out of the way and allow ourselves to experience the sharing of love with more people. Don’t worry, you won’t run out of love the more you share it. God has lots more for you where that came from. Just remember – Don’t blow air kisses…

Light up the world…share the love.

January 9, 2020

I need to share Jack’s entire post from today’s entry in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words –

“Love multiplies and adds as we divide it with others.”  (Arthur C. Nielsen –adapted)  A leader was trying to illustrate the truth of this quotation to a group of young people.  Each person was given an unlit candle.  The leader then lit a candle and passed the flame to a candle that was unlit and that one passed it to the next…and so on.  Then she commented: “Look at all of these candles…from a single flame which is not diminished.  “Love multiplies” as we share it!

It seems to me that the two key words in that whole post are the words “love” and “share”. Jesus came to earth as God’s way of expressing his love for his people and recast their perception of Him from a God to be feared into a God to be loved and embraced through His Son. Jesus preached a message of love for one another and in deed left that as his final commandment in John 13:34 – “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.”

God, as interpreted by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day was a God to be feared. Those same leaders created and imposed rigid instructions for keeping God happy by following the rituals that they designed. Jesus threw out those rules and substituted love for the fear that was the foundation of the beliefs at the time.

Jesus may be thought of as that first candle in the story that Jack related in his post. The light of that first candle was the love that Jesus shared even unto His death on the cross. That light has been passed from person to person and from generation to generation ever since. That original love is undiminished, just as the light from the original candle was undiminished as it was shared.

Our mission, it would seem, is not to sit there with an unlit candle or a candle whose light we keep to ourselves; but, rather, to share the light and the flame of our candle with others. Sharing the good news of Christ is not about preaching at people, it is about sharing the love that we inherited when we accepted Christ and lit our candle.

You need not get up on a soapbox to share that love. If you just reach out to others who may be in need, you are sharing the love. If you greet others with a cheerful voice and a sincere interest in them, you are sharing the love. If you live your life as an example of the love that Christ has for you, you will naturally share and spread the light of your candle.

As you start out each day, take a moment to turn up the wick of your candle through prayer, then go out, and light up the world by sharing your love. The world will be a brighter place because of your light. Share the Love.

Have an extraordinary life…

November 26, 2016

The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things – Veronique Vienne.

It seems to me that the key to that quote from Veronique Vienne is the word “find”. It is an action word that assumes that one is not sitting there waiting for things, and the associated pleasures, to come to them; it says that some overt effort is being made to seek out those pleasures.smell-the-roses

The opening quote is really a variation on the old saw, “Stop and smell the roses.” It is stopping and making the effort to discover the extraordinary that is to be found in all things that brings the pleasure to life. While it is pleasurable to enjoy things like roses or great works of man or even other species of living things; I would submit that the saying might be much more meaningful and rewarding if it were phrased, “Stop and meet the people.”

handshakeIt is in meeting other people that we have our most profound experiences of the extraordinary, because we can relate to their life experiences as if they were our own. We can imagine ourselves living their stories. It is really impossible to imagine yourself as a fish or maybe even living as a lion or elephant; but, one can imagine the life of the fisherman or living in Africa alongside the animals through the stories of other humans who live those lives. One only hears stories like those and imagines those extraordinary adventures if one makes the effort to stop and meet the people.

There was an old late 50’s and early 60’s TV show called Naked City and it’s closing tag line was something like, “there are a million stories in the Naked City and this has been one of them.” There are billions of people on earth and millions within this country and every talking-2one of them has a story, some of them quite extraordinary. Each of those stories allows us to escape the capsule of personal experiences that we live within and imagine new and different experiences, many of them extraordinary indeed.

Imagine meeting a refuge family from Iraq that just moved into your town. As you talk with them about their experiences you are whisked away in your mind to Aleppo, huddled in a bomb shelter or just taking cover under some rubble, with bombs dropping all around you. After the bombing has stopped, you are amazed to see children emerge and start kicking around a ball made of wadded up paper and tape; improvising a game of soccer in the midst of this chaos. How extraordinary is that?

Perhaps you meet an immigrant from an impoverished African country and you suddenly find yourself imagining walking across vast stretches of the plains and desserts in search of food and shelter. In their stories you experience living in the squalor of a refugee camp while awaiting your turn to apply for safety in another country and then the wonder and amazement, along with the fears and uncertainties, of coming to a country where there is men huggingfood and shelter for all in need, but where you don’t understand the language or customs. What an extraordinary journey.

Maybe your travels bring you in contact with Native Americans and they share stories of their heritage and traditions. Perhaps you stop and take the time to talk with an African American who is protesting that black lives matter. You might encounter a member of the GLBTQ community and turn towards them to learn, instead of away from them to shun. It could be that just finding time to share your thoughts with a loved one – your hopes and fears, dreams and disappointments – is an extraordinary experience for you. Make the effort.

In each of these encounters there are people to meet, stories to be listened to and things tolisten be learned. So, stop and meet the people and fill your life with the extraordinary pleasures found in sharing life experiences with others. Making that effort will certainly result in expanding your thinking and may even make you a better person for having listened to, and hopefully considered, that other persons point of view.

Stop and meet the people today and you will have an extraordinary life.

There’s a party goin’ on…Smile

September 30, 2015

“I might look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head I’m quite busy.”  (Spirit Science) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I can relate to that little saying, especially sometimes at night when I wake up and my mind takes off on its own. Does that ever happen to you?

I used to work for a technology company that had a corporate trainer who used this line to open his training sessions  – “To the world outside I may look calm and composed, but inside this body there’s a party going on”.  Hechild dancing was a great trainer who let some of that partying out in his sessions and made the learning experience fun. Is there a party going on inside of you? Do you let some of that out and share with others or just hold it all in?

Many people, and I count myself among them, have an exterior mien that masks their emotions. They have “at rest” facial expressions that either looks disinterested or maybe even angry. I always thought that House Speaker John Boehner looked unhappy whenever he was shown on TV, especially as he sat behind the President on State of Union speeches. Perhaps he was always unhappy then. How do you look when you’re not trying to smile or frown or make any face at all?  Most people would probably be surprised at how uninviting they look in their “at rest ” face.

There is a tendency in our society not to make eye contact or engage others and, in fact, to discourage engagement by others. We’re in too much of a hurry to get somewhere or do something to stop and talk to others, especially strangers.  These days much of our focus may be directed to the palm of our hand where our ubiquitous little friend, the smartphone, demands our attention. How ironic that we would rather check out what someone posted on Facebook than to spend actual face time with another person. There’s a party going on all around us inside the people that we pass, but we don’t join the fun because we make no effort to get invited in.

Perhaps the easiest way that we can invite people to join our party or to get invoited to join theirs is to make the effort to smile as we pass them. I like this little saying from Jarod Kintz – “Smiling is the way the soul says hello.”  So, smile and invite people to join smiling dogthe party that’s going on inside of you. You won’t be sorry that you did.

The thing about a smiling person is that, when you meet them, you have a reaction. You may wonder what the heck they are smiling about or you may wonder if they’re smiling because they see the jelly from this morning’s donut still clinging to your shirt. Perhaps their smile keys off some good feeling that you have inside and that brings a smile to your face, too. Maybe you can then pay it forward by smiling at someone else and helping make their day better.  “For a moment at least, be a smile on someone else’s face.”  ― Dejan Stojanovic

Invite others in to join the party that’s goin’ on inside of you. If you happen to be alone, take a moment to think of something that makes you smile and remember this little saying from Andy Rooney – “If you smile when you are alone, then you really mean it.” You’ll make your own day better.

Smile and have a great day.  ;^)

Share your heart through a letter…

July 29, 2015

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”  (Phyllis Theroux – as seen on Jack’s Winning Words some time ago.

It’s Wednesday (hump day to some) which may make you feel happy that the week is half over. Why not make someone else happy and write a letter or card to them today. There’s something much more satisfying about holding a card or letter in your hand and reading it than just staring at the screen of your computer or phone. Applications like Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter have made sending short little notes or messages to people relatively easy; however, they have also made it much less personal. The fact that many people use a form of shorthand to communicate takes even more of the personal touch out of it.

letter writingSitting down to write a letter does take an effort on your part. As part of that effort you actually spend more time thinking about what you want to say to the other person. There are no spellcheck do-overs if you are writing with ink (maybe a few cross-outs), so you spend a little more time on it and consider a little more the words that you are using. I think you also spend a little more time thinking about the person to whom you are writing. Even if you are writing to relate some news about you  or your family, rattling around in the back of your head are the memories of times together with the person to whom you are writing and probably the memories of the reason that you are taking the time to write to them.

One seldom dashes off a letter to unknown recipients, like one might do in a blog post or Tweet – the exception maybe are those nasty letters to complain about something or maybe a letter to the editor of the local paper. For the most part letters are a form of communicating that is almost as personal as being together and having a conversation. That is why they can come from the heart.

Many people save the cards and letters that they get from loved ones or letters they might have received from important people. Those letters, many times discovered much later, often document the love of people separated by events or the progress through life of good friends or relatives. Often it is the letters that were saved by someone close to them that allow us to get a better view of long gone famous people – their thoughts and views on the events happening in their time.  Do you posting a letterhave letters or cards from someone that you’ve been saving? Do you ever go back and re-read them? Does re-reading them still make you smile or feel good?

So, take the time today to sit down and write a letter or card to someone. You can get blank cards at stores that sell cards. Nicely written cards are sort of like the Tweets of letter writing, but they are still better than just a Tweet or Facebook post to someone. Make someone’s day. Share your heart with them through a letter. You’ll feel better when you’re done and they’ll feel better when they get your letter.

Someone needs you; will you be there for them?

March 2, 2015

“We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”  (Erik Erikson)

There was a long story in the Sunday Detroit Free Press about a local woman, whom repairmen discovered dead in her garage a while back. She had been dead for five years and no one had missed her! The story went into great detail about this woman’s background and how something like that could happen. It wasn’t as if the women had no relatives. She had brothers and sisters living in different parts of the country. And this didn’t happen in some out of the way place; but, rather in a nice neighborhood up in Pontiac, Michigan where homes are fairly close together – she had neighbors. The story recounted that she wasn’t really what we might call a hermit, just a very private person, with no friends locally and with a history of not communicating with her family members, sometimes for years. Sadly, her mummified body was found in her own garage, sitting in her own car. The body was so badly deteriorated that the coroner may never be able to determine the cause of her death. One might classify it as death by isolation. It certainly was death in isolation and that is sad.

In the paper’s recounting of this woman’s back story It is documented that she did have friends and co-workers at one time and even showed up for family events on occasion (rare, but it did happen). She was always recognized by everyone who knew her as someone who kept to herself and that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But she took her need for privacy to the extreme and got to the point where she apparently needed no one. She established this image so firmly in everyone’s mind that there was no one that saw it as unusual that they had not seen her or heard from her in years. She had set her bills up on an auto-payment schedule, so they just kept getting paid after her death until such time as the funds ran out. Eventually her house was repossessed through foreclosure and it was when workmen showed up to repair a hole in the roof that they discovered her body.

Had she taken to heart the little saying from today by Erik Erikson she might still have died, but she would have been missed a lot sooner. We’ll never know if she perhaps could have even been saved by someone who cared and became concerned about her when she didn’t show up somewhere or wasn’t seen for a while.

Gristly stories like this account aside, there is more to Erik’s statement than just watching out for each other. While humans aren’t classified as “pack animals”, we are normally social beings. We depend upon social interactions for reinforcement, feedback and self-assurance. It is important that we learn to like ourselves, but it is also critical thatfriends holdi hands we have the interactions with other humans that confirm who we think we are or help us to become the person that we would like to be. At its most intense and important level this human interaction is with our life-mate. I can no longer even imagine life without the one in my life who completes me. Perhaps that is why the loss of a husband or wife can be so devastating and really why those left behind often seek that level of companionship again.

Another obvious reason that we need each other is that we are all dependent upon the work and contributions of others to supply almost everything that we need. I haven’t seen anything but the trailers for the movie about “The Last Man on Earth”, but I can imagine that initially one could run around breaking into stores for whatever is needed; however, that supply is finite and since no one else was around, there would be no new supplies of anything. Systems such as the power grid that are fairly highly automated might run for some time, but event hey would faultier and quit after a while if there was no one around. So the things that everyone else is out there doing is important to me and what I do somehow is important to them, too.

From time to time we may be in situations where it feels like we’re alone. Maybe we are away from home, maybe even in a fairly isolated location. It is important in time like that to savor our memories of loved ones and friends and woman workingperhaps even to take advantage of modern technologies like Skype to reach out and touch them, if only for a moment. Texting also has a feel of immediacy that is somehow comforting; at least you know that the person on the other end of a texting exchange is there and aware of you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that sense of loneliness and reaching out to someone for relief. There’s no great honor in being known as a loner and it is no proof of your independence to shun friends and family when you could use help.

On the flip-side of this coin, it is not the right thing to do to allow this to happen with someone that you know. Being concerned about them is not being nosy. Taking steps to communicate with them, even if they have not made thecaring effort with you is reaching out, not reaching in to their lives. It’s not snooping when it’s driven by love or concern, so don’t let your friends or relatives become hermits. Sometimes, if the secrecy and withdrawal of a loved one is caused by factors like drugs or alcohol it is only through your aggressive actions to communicate that you might be able to save them from themselves.  Make them see you and then help them see themselves. Remember that we need each other. Help them see that and we’ll all be better off.

Put on a happy face…

December 22, 2014

“When I see someone who’s grumpy, or looks like he or she is having an awful day, why not brighten their day with a positive song?”  (Ellis Kalomiris) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I’m not sure that me bursting into song would brighten anyone’s day (maybe after a good laugh); however, I’m pretty sure that putting on a smile and offering a cheery girls hugginggreeting will at least force them to pause from their grumpiness to respond. The same can be said about offering a cheerful “Hello” and your hand to someone who might look lost or afraid at a social gathering. There’s something about seeing someone who is smiling and who looks happy to see you that is disarming and can change your outlook (at least temporarily). So, like Dick Van Dyke in this movie clip, put on your happy face and make someone’s day a little brighter.

If you are the person who is having a bad day, let those in who are trying to help. These are people who love you enough to try to cheer you up, so don’t fight themlistening off; let them help. Drop your defenses and let their smiles or songs and cherry greetings wash over you. Maybe they’ll wash away the thoughts that were making you unhappy.  If nothing else they may be able to get you to look at things from a slightly different perspective and you will realize that you are not alone (which is where being in the grumpy or unhappy dungeon puts you).

Grumpiness, unhappiness, and sadness are all states of mind. Remember this saying from Seneca – A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.  So, if you can think yourself into misery, you can think yourself out of it, too. Let the people who love you help you find a way out of your unhappy thoughts.

girl with smile pictureA side benefit from sharing your happiness with others is that, the more of it you give away, the more comes back to you. Your happiness will actually increase as you share it with others. Soon you will be surrounded by happy people and what a great place to be. Put on your happy face and share it with others today.

Have a great and happy week ahead!

Machismo not required…

November 26, 2014

“You got to go through it to get to it.”  (Joel Osteen) – as seen on a recent post at the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

That little saying, if taken out of context, seems to be just dripping with machismo, to which I would reply No Mas! The phrase men butting heads“man up” has taken on way too much testosterone over the last few years. To be a man is not about being able to withstand pain or shaking it off and getting back in the game. There is way too much evidence that the whole “shake it off” mentality is wrong and harmful. “Man up” was, is and should be about taking responsibility for your actions; and it really isn’t just about men; although “person up” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But, do you really have to go through it to get to it? And what are the two it’s in that little phrase all about? I guess you had to hear the context in which Osteen used that phrase and it had nothing to do with going through some sort of trial or pain or test to get to heaven. Osteen’s sermon was about persevering through the tough times by remembering that God is always with you and will not abandon you, just because things are tough.

We’ve become a country full ofpills people who believe that taking a pill for things like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol  is a better answer than doing the exercise and weight loss work that really would help the most and maybe even provide a cure. Sometimes we don’t preserver and do what is needed in our relationships either; we take short-cuts or the easy way out of resolving issues with people, by using email or text messages, rather than confronting them in person.

So, there are some things that you may have to go through or figure out in order to get through life; however, you do not have to fight your way through them. I have found that taking the time to analyze the situation and trying to find a win-win solution is a good alternative answer. Life is not a football game; life is more a game of compromises and partnerships; small set-backs and small victories and making sure that you are striving for the right things and not just things. Maybe the saying should be, “You’ve got to figure it out to get to it.”

The other issue that the quote can seem to allude to is that you have to go through life’s trials alone – Mano a Mano!  Macismo, again! That was not the point of his sermon, which brought God into the picture and assured his audience that we are never alone. After all, he is a preacher and that is one of the most powerful messages of the Good News that he is trying to spread.

In Maine they have created a program called Mano en Mano (which they define as Hand in Hand) to provide assistance and guidance to those in need, especially those of diverse cultural backgrounds.  Somehow that seems to be a much better answer than just standing back and telling the people in need to tough it out.

Community Sharing logoAs we approach our uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, we should be thankful for people who create and run programs like Mano en Mano and all of the rest of helping and sharing programs that provide help to those in need. In our area, Community Sharing, Lighthouse of Oakland County  and Meals on Wheels and so many other volunteer organizations provide assistance so that people don’t have to go through pain and suffering just to live day-to-day. If you want to be a part of the solution and not just stand by lamenting the problem, sign up to volunteer at organizations like these. Then you can say, “”I’ve got to do it tothanksgiving family help others through it; then we’ll both get to it.” Machismo not required.

Have a great Thanksgiving.