Category Archives: Living

Find Happiness In What You Have

“Happiness isn’t about getting what you want all the time. It’s about loving what you have and being grateful for what you want.” ~ Zig Ziglar …

People tend to choose to see happiness as something we must chase after and capture, as if it is something to be won or obtained. This view, however, only serves to disenfranchise us of the power to experience the happiness we already possess. True happiness can only be found in sincere gratitude for the things we have and the things we want.

We often feel that we know what is best for us, even though we are shown time and time again that this is simply not true. In my life, this is most evident when I come before God asking for things to be my way. Most of the time, what I ask for is not what I get; though usually what I get, is exactly what I need at that point in my life. And although it may not have made perfect sense at the time, in retrospect, it was necessary for my growth, understanding, and acceptance.

When it really comes down to it, our unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life is not born from what we have or have not–it is born from how we see the things we have or have not. When we fail to see what we already have as enough, or carelessly place our focus on what we lack, we create our own unhappiness. On the other hand, when we see our life–and everything in it–as an irreplaceable gift and a blessing, we cannot help but know true happiness firsthand.

Jesus of Nazareth put it best when he said, “not my will, but yours be done.” Looking at life with a similar attitude enables us to practice acceptance for the way things are in life, and show gratitude in spite of our wants and desires. This inevitably leads us to happiness, for we have left no foundation for unhappiness and dissatisfaction to take root.

Find happiness purely in the things you already have today.

Questions to consider:

Do you love your current possessions? Do they meet most of your true needs?

Where does our dissatisfaction with the things we have in life come from?

How often do you closely consider the things you have with an appreciation for the value it adds to your life?

For further thought:

“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs. That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” ~ Pat Alger, Larry Bastain, Garth Brooks

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What If “Nothing Happens”?

“I believe that many who find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” ~ C.S. Lewis, On the Incarnation …

We often feel that practicing our faith should yield discernible results; that sitting down in reflection, reading a good book of devotion, or time spent in prayer will touch our hearts and minds. But what if “nothing happens?” What if we do not feel moved? Perhaps, it is then time to roll up our sleeves a bit, and get ourselves dirty in theological studies.

I tend to like to feel that my faith is something I can simply pick-up and carry with me whenever I like. However, C.S. Lewis is right; faith requires a steadfast devotion to studying it, understanding it, and living it throughout our lives. Just as saying that I have compassion for others is not the same thing as going out and caring for those in need and truly feeling that compassion, I must become an active participant in my faith if I wish to find my “heart sing.”

Time spent studying great religious works, in prayer or devotion, or performing any act that challenges our faith… adds tinder to the fireplace of our soul. Set aside some time each week to further your faith through studies and devotions. And do not be satisfied with simply reading the words–break out a “pipe and pencil” and work your way through it, asking yourself questions and spending time in deep thought and reflection. The effort you put forth will open up your heart. You will find yourself feeling happier and more fulfilled, for you will possess a deeper understanding of your faith, and answers to the questions you seek.

Spend at least 15 minutes reflecting on devotional texts today.

Questions to consider:

How easy is it for you to study topics you really enjoy? What have you gained from those studies?

Why do we tend to look at spending time in study of our faith as drudgery rather than opportunity?

How can “working our way through theology” offer us a more personal perspective?

For further thought:

“Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow.” ~ Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor

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Empower For Positive Change

“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai …

Malala Yousafzai was a young Pakistani schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. As a result, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, yet she survived. Her story of standing up to fear and evil has changed the lives of millions throughout the world. She knows firsthand the power and responsibility we all possess to change the world for the better.

Part of Malala’s message is that we can make a difference; and making a difference does not mean we have to write a book or put our life on the line, it can come simply from making positive changes in our own lives that have a ripple effect on the world around us. Feeling compassion for those in pain and suffering, showing genuine concern for the needs of others, sharing joy, happiness, and cheer with those you meet–all of these things can have a profound positive effect in the world.

Malala additionally hints towards our responsibility as teachers to those who share this world with us. Especially as parents, we have a duty to teach and empower our children to be godly stewards of this Earth. That includes standing up for what they know to be right and good, accepting personal responsibility for their lives and their actions, always being true to themselves, and walking tall in confidence with an unshaken faith.

Fear is strong… but the power of heart is always stronger.

Empower a child by reinforcing their potential to make a positive impact in their life or community.

Questions to consider:

Think of some of the role models in your life that have inspired you. How have they lived the ideals of responsibility and duty?

Have you taught others of their power and potential to change the world? In what ways could you do so?

Are the majority of your decisions made out of love or fear?

For further thought:

“We need to teach the next generation of children from Day One that they are responsible for their lives. Humankind’s greatest gift–also its greatest curse–is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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Remain Focused On Your Inherent Worth

“What is behind your eyes holds more power than what is in front of them.” ~ Gary Zukav …

This is so true indeed! Our value and our worth is beyond measure. Yet many of us tend to place our worth outside of ourselves–on how we perceive ourselves, or even worse, on how others perceive us. But our beauty already lies within us. It is there in our hearts… in the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat others. It is there in our minds… in the wholesome knowledge and understanding we gain. It is there in our words… those that lift others up, those that spread kindness and love. It is there in our actions… in the concern we show to others and the goodness we pour forth into the world.

Society teaches us at a young age to rely on others to tell us that we are valuable and worthwhile. Therefore, we tend to seek out–and believe–the perceptions of those around us, as if it were the only confirmation of our value. Unfortunately, though, we are never taught to tell ourselves this very same thing–that we are valuable and worthwhile–and believe it.

We do not need others to confirm our value–we were worthwhile from the very moment we were created. Recognize this truth within your life. Allow your true self–the one that does not need the approval of others–to shine forth for all to see. Each day, yell out to the world, “This is the authentic me! This is who I am! The beautiful, incredible soul within this body.”

Remain focused on your inherent worth throughout the day.

Questions to consider:

What power do you have behind your eyes? How do you use it?

Why is it often difficult for us to recognize and acknowledge our own value?

Why do we tend to lean on others to validate our worth and value in life?

For further thought:

“The hardest battle you’re ever going to fight is the battle to be just you.” ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

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Renew Your Enthusiasm Daily

“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day, which must be done, whether you like it or not.” ~ James Russell Lowell …

I find this to be the perfect line of thought to help foster an environment that is conducive to sparking that glorious fire of inspiration within us each day. After all, we are alive! We just awoke to another day full of opportunity! Nothing could be more deserving of our gratitude and praise. And here we have available to us the opportunity–and ability–to make a difference in this world. Today, we can improve our life or the lives of those around us, and we can find personal fulfillment and growth in our interactions and accomplishments throughout the day.

In contrast to humbly working on our awareness in life by spending time in solitude and reflection, today, we hear that we, too, have some responsibilities before us–responsibilities that call us to action. Having been born into this world, we have the duty to be a necessary and productive part of it. This is a call to action–it means that we are not to sit by idly in life, but to help to contribute to our brothers and sisters who, like us, are doing their best in life to get by.

Like a rechargeable battery, spend the time necessary to build yourself up and to re-focus your energy. And once you are charged up, do your thing as best you can. We all need each other to be fully present in life–to learn from one another, to teach one another, to give and to take from each other, and to be a beneficial part of the lives in which we touch.

Resolve, with enthusiasm, to complete all the tasks required of you today.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the benefits of having necessary tasks for the day ahead of us?

What are some of the positive contributions that our interactions with others have on their lives? On ours?

In what ways can you contribute to humanity and the world around you today?

For further thought:

“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books–especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.” ~ John Wooden

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Discord With Others

“Every person you fight with has many other people in his or her life with whom he or she gets along quite well. You cannot look at a person who seems difficult to you without also looking at yourself.” ~ Jeffrey Kottler …

It is not any fun to be at odds with others in our life. It means fighting, anger, stress, avoidance, exclusion, and so many other negative things that hinder our personal growth. Yet within those seeds of discord, lie perhaps the most direct and appropriate analysis of who we are on the inside; they speak to us of the innermost feelings that we are dealing with and perhaps hiding away from ourselves.

Most of the difficult people in my life do not wish to teach me anything. They act selfishly, they allow their greed, their need for control, or their fear to determine how they treat others, and that certainly does not take the growth of others into account. Yet still, each of these individuals presents me with an opportunity for growth and understanding. They gift me with a chance to look at life differently, to develop my character, and to be a better person.

Some of the best teachers in our lives are those with whom we do not get along quite well. And although it is often a challenge for us to face them, they allow us to see ourselves from a different perspective. They allow us to work on developing positive traits to offset the negative aspects of our character–patience, tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness.

We should be able to show love to everyone in our lives–even those who are difficult. That is what unconditional love is all about. It is not always easy… but it is always worth it in the end.

Take time today to reflect upon the discord you have with others.

Questions to consider:

Is it easy for you to show respect and dignity to difficult individuals? Why?

How can difficult individuals help us to learn more about ourselves?

Could we learn as much from those we get along with?

For further thought:

“There are indeed many beggars in this world,
But scarce are those that inflict harm;
For if I have not injured others
Few beings will cause me harm.

Therefore, just like treasure appearing in my house
Without any effort on my part to obtain it,
I should be happy to have an enemy,
For he assists me in my conduct of Awakening” ~ Shantideva

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Life Is About Fulfilment

“There is only one principle that applies: Life is about fulfillment. If your life isn’t fulfilled, your stomach can never supply what’s missing.” ~ Deepak Chopra …

What do you hunger for in life? Perhaps the nourishment you seek cannot be found in food, alcohol, or entertainment. Perhaps what we really need to ask ourselves instead is “What does my mind and soul thirst for?” Many times in our lives, we find ourselves lost and confused. Our lives seem to be lacking substance and meaning, and that leaves us feeling unfulfilled, and so we stumble onward searching for that which we need, yet are not really sure of.

So how do we know for sure when we have found it? Well, the first thing we need to recognize is the importance of searching. There is a song by Michael W. Smith in which he sings, “I’m looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find my place in this world.” I like to imagine that we, too, come to a crossroads in our lives, in which we begin to search for our calling. And during this transitional chapter in our lives, it can actually be quite liberating to realize that we have not yet found our place in this world, as this opens up our possibilities for happiness and fulfillment.

The key is that we are aware of where our hearts need to go in order to find fulfillment in life–that we are actively guiding our direction and setting a course for our desired destination. Your place is out there in life… and it is probably closer than you think. What is your heart telling you about the journey you are on?

Do something that you find fulfilling to your soul today.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the most fulfilling aspects of your life?

If you had a choice of doing any type of work or activity as a career, what would it be?

What are some potential directions in your life that could bring you a deeper sense of fulfillment?

For further thought:

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

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