Tag Archives: happy

Rejoicing

 

Rejoicing

 

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Retreat! Time to Reflect, Rejuvenate and Rejoice!
(c)1999 – Julie Jordan Scott

“Every year, I pack up a duffel bag and head to the mountains near Yosemite. A weekend each year spent in the company of 90 or so women. Journeying from places mostly from throughout California. As we step from our vehicles upon arrival, we breathe in the pine smell of the crisp clean air and breathe out the stresses and concerns of our lives in the Valley below.

I have been making this pilgrimage for the past six years. Each time I return home refreshed and ready for whatever real life may have in store for me.

Embracing fully the concept of retreat, I have decided to schedule a monthly, day long personal retreat. I have set aside on my calendar throughout the year the last Friday of the month for this purpose. On my retreat day, I will intentionally create an experience that is unlike any of my other days throughout the month. Set apart. Special. Solitary.

Come along with me, lets try this together! I have uncovered a retreat formula that may work for you as well.

Reflect
The day begins with a day of reflection. Raise a figurative mirror to yourself, take your personal pulse. There are several ways to approach this. A few suggestions are as follows:

* Make a list of victories from the current month. Reflect: How did you achieve these victories? What action steps did it require? How did it feel to complete these victories? Would you describe your achievement fun? work? performing? striving? playing?

*Make a list of unfinished goals. Reflect: Why did you miss the mark this month? Is this goal truly according to my life purpose? Is this a task I can delegate or barter out? Should I re-add this to my list, or should I take it off?

*Make a list of goals/tasks for the new month. Reflect: Which projects should “bridge up”, fitting into my 30-60-90 day, 6 month, yearly plan? Are there any other areas that need to be thought out or planned? Which tasks are the highest priority and how can you ensure you will get there.

Then, set aside your carefully crafted plan! Its time to move!

REJUVENATE
Now it is time to put aside your “thinking hat” and work with your subconscious or intuitive mind.

Time to get busy! Do you like to exercise? Create Art? Look at Art? Listen to music? How about a long drive? Believe it or not, I have been known the cruise the Mall during my rejuvenation time.

Take along a pad and pencil or pen and relish whichever activity you choose. The pad and pencil is to take notes about whatever comes up, whatever floats in your mind in regards to the earlier Reflection exercise.

Don’t force anything to come! Just play! Enjoy! Be! You have this agenda, yes, but in actuality, you are not wedded to DOING anything! The point is to be intentionally free with yourself.

After you feel you have had enough time creating, driving, walking, exercising, mall cruising take time and sit down. Take out your list from your Reflection time and revise as necessary. This may be the time to have something to eat. Some refreshment. You may choose to completely envelope yourself in the process of eating.

Next, I find it helpful and invigorating at this point to do some reading. Not the newspaper, not a magazine, but something inspiring. Something that addresses the areas I am currently addressing on my Monthly plan.

After a half an hour or so, go back to your list. Has your quiet mind told you now to make any changes? Make note of them, add to the list, subtract from the list, brainstorm if necessary for your barter list.

REJOICE
Depending upon how long each component has lasted for you, you may have time to reflect some more. Spend more time in creation. Make sure to leave the time frame as loose as possible while still somewhat structured. The three main themes are very important. As you move to the end of your Retreat day, spend some time rejoicing. Applaud yourself for your efforts. Note all that you have accomplished this day.

Re enter the world slowly. Be gentle with yourself as you continue to refine YOUR Retreat process. I hope you will take time to really thoughtfully consider making this a regular part of your Purposeful life.”

By: Julie Jordan Scott

 

The Accidental Visit

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A LESSON IN HOSPITALITY

     Several friends and I who were about ten years old discussed what to do on a hot day in July. One boy said, “let’s visit that old run down house hidden in the wood.” It was so overgrown with foliage I never really paid attention to it. It was a two story house in disrepair. The four of us went to the front door of the house and knocked. To our amazement a tall very thin old lady came to the door and invited us in. She said, “come to the kitchen.” She started making something for us to drink. I looked around the large kitchen and noticed it was dirty and unkempt. There was a large number of mice running all over the place. We told her we had to go. As we left we marveled at how happy she seemed to be in that place. That was the place of her memories. It was her home. When I got back to my home, I told my mom about our experience and asked if anything could be done for her. She was really nice to us and seemed friendly and happy. Mom told me that after her husband died she lost her mind and no one visited her. She thinks everything is the way it was before her husband died. She does not see the things you saw. There is a custodian who pays her bills out of her husband’s substantial savings. She is said to be competent and no one has anything to do with her except to buy groceries and pay the bills. I was saddened at that truth. (It is true that she was declared competent but how did the authorities arrive at that conclusion).

About a year later the old woman died. The estate was contested, legally deadlocked, by her two children. The estate was never sold and the contents were never taken by them. It was later bulldozed and to this day it is an empty overgrown lot. I will always remember the lady in that old house how happy she was and how welcome she made us feel that day. Even out of her mind she was more welcoming than many people are today. Thank you Mrs. Stuart for the lesson you taught me.

A true story from Simposious

A Beautiful Life

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Tips for a beautiful life!

This story contains some “tips” that may bring you a beautiful life. Read them, live by them more fully, and I promise you will experience

A beautiful life!

Take a 10-30 minute walk every day and while you walk, smile.

Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, “My purpose is to … today.”

Live with the 3 E’s: Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy, and the 3 F’s: Faith, Family, Friends.

Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

Dream more while you are awake.

Try to make at least three people smile each day.

Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn, pass all your tests. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.

Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagreements.

Make peace with your past, so it won’t mess up the present.

Don’t compare your life with others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Burn the candles, use the nice sheets. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

Forgive everyone for everything.

What other people think of you is none of your business.

Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will stay in touch.

Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.

The best is yet to come… Believe.

No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.

Do the right thing!

Call your family often.

Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: “I am thankful for…” – “Today I accomplished…”

Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

Enjoy the ride. Remember that this is not Disney World and you certainly don’t want a fast pass. Make the most of it and enjoy the ride.
Author Unknown

From: www.academictips.org.

Welcoming To All

 

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Welcome To All!

 — by Cindy Hess Kasper
Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
Bible in a Year:
Job 34-35; Acts 15:1-21

A beautifying project on the main road of my town prompted the demolition of a church built in the 1930s. Although the windows of the empty church had been removed, the doors remained in place for several days, even as bulldozers began knocking down walls. Each set of doors around the church building held a message written in giant, fluorescent-orange block letters: KEEP OUT!

Unfortunately, some churches whose doors are open convey that same message to visitors whose appearance doesn’t measure up to their standards. No fluorescent, giant-size letters needed. With a single disapproving glance, some people communicate: “You’re Not Welcome Here!”

How people look on the outside, of course, is not an indicator of what is in their hearts. God’s focus is on the inner life of people. He looks far below the surface of someone’s appearance (1 Sam. 16:7) and that’s what He desires for us to do as well. He also knows the hearts of those who appear to be “righteous” but are “full of hypocrisy” on the inside (Matt. 23:28).

God’s message of welcome, which we are to show to others, is clear. He says to all who seek Him: “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isa. 55:1).

Thank You, Lord, that You welcome all into
Your family, and You have welcomed me. Show me
how to be as accepting of others as You are.
May I reveal Your heart of love.
No one will know what you mean when you say, “God is love”—unless you show it.

Puppy Love

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By Bill McCartney

“We jog, run, camp, fish, and build furniture. But do we ever cross the line?

I’m Bill McCartney… It’s 4th and Goal!

I know men who can take raw wood and a few nails and create a family heirloom. And then there are those of us who can listen to a sputtering engine and pinpoint the problem without even popping the hood. Other guys fly fish or fry up a gourmet meal.

Some of us are music lovers, avid readers and huge pet fans. These interests help fulfill us, but sometimes we can get caught up filling our days… and evenings… and weekends… pursuing activities that leave our families in the dust.

Take our interest in man’s best friend. Our animals are companions for kids, protection for the home and just plain furry fun for the whole family. But, with all the extras and supplies available, there can be a tendency to get a little carried away.

We’ve got doggy beds, doggy diet chow, and special canine clothing. People primp their pooches, put them up in pet hotels, and even take them to counselors, when they’re not sure what’s dogging Fido. Things can easily get out of hand.

While we enjoy our outside interests and hobbies, do we let these “extras” become sore spots in our lives? Do they absorb far more time, energy and money than we should be sacrificing?

Any diversion can draw us away from the relationships that make life worth living. Let’s ask ourselves what’s more important, fulfilling our own needs or being a father to our children? What will they remember longer? The shiny wax job on the classic ‘vette? Or all those times we got on the ground and wrestled around with them?

Guys, we can take our hobbies to the extreme, pouring money and time into efforts that have no lasting value. Anything we put ahead of our wives and children, whether a pedigreed pooch, a workbench full of tools, or a super-deluxe convertible, says something about who we are, as men. Let’s keep first things first and stay clear of anything that pulls us away from our first priorities as fathers and husbands.

—–

Bill McCartney was the head coach of the University of Colorado football team for years, leading them to a co-National Championship. Now he is active as a speaker for a Christian organization.” Puppy Love, Inspire 21.com, by: Bill McCartney.

“…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

Stories of Joy and Pain

 

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Stories of Joy and Pain

A Significant Session

by Lisa Samson

“Sam and I go into the back primal room, and I’m losing my nerve. I let him know this, and that my fear is about going into some really deep work with a man present. So we talk about it for a bit, and I find I’m getting angry with myself that I’m getting sidetracked. That made my mind up.

I let myself go down into what I’ve always felt was a bottomless black hole, and an image came to me of being a very small baby lying in my crib with someone in the room. The next thing I know, I’m pushing out/away with my legs and arms, and I’m struggling with something, I don’t know what. I scream until I can’t breathe, and as I come fighting back up for air, I say “Stop I mean it!” This was significant, in that I understood my limits and respected them even in the midst of a life-and-death primal.

So we take some time to bring me out and get me more grounded in the present. And then Sam is looking me in the eyes and he says, “I think this is why you’re here, Lisa, this is why you came this weekend.” We talk about what I want to do, that it was very brave and significant for me to be able to stop and stay right where I was and see how I feel. I tell him what my perceptions were, and that I felt like someone was trying to hurt, or possibly kill me, and I decide to go back down. It’s amazing to me now, how easily I made that decision, based on the amount of fear I was feeling, and at that moment I had no idea of the outcome.

So down I go again with a death grip on Sam’s hand and when I can’t breath anymore, instead of the fear ripping me apart there’s this unbelievable strength that comes, and I’m finally fighting and screaming, “NO!!”, and suddenly I let go and come out the “other side.”

It took some time for me to realize what had happened, and even before I could really register that I had gotten past that horrible fear, I was sobbing and asking, “Why, why didn’t they want me?” The pain was somehow a little more bearable, I believe now, because I could feel how incredibly strong I was for making it through. I cried for awhile and told Sam I was having a little trouble with a man being there with me. After some time I was aware of his heart beat and I guess the idea came to me that it was just a heart beat, everything living has one, and I don’t have to compare or feel threatened, or act enticing, or be anything in relation to that heart beat. And for the first time since I’ve been doing this work I looked down into that crib with baby Lisa in it and instead of feeling all the rejection and pain and ugliness – I saw and felt a beautiful baby. Then I was reaching out for her and bringing her up into my arms, feeling her wiggling into me, all of her sweetness and innocence. Then there wasn’t any more division, the little baby was me and I was holding me and feeling how beautiful I was, how wonderful and sweet, so strong and with so much potential. I believe it was the first time I – loved – me.

Then I was aware of a tingling vibration all through my body. I kept wiggling my toes and flexing my muscles as I continued to recognize myself. And as if I could stand anymore joy suddenly I could feel my heart!! And then I cried more tears of joy. It was like tiny celebrations going on all through my body! I lay there for a long time in Sam’s arms crying tears of joy, laughing and smiling, feeling the love I hold for myself. Then after a time I would just think of someone and suddenly I was with them sharing my joy. I felt so wonderful and I said so many prayers. Then I cried more tears when I

realized that the next time I held my children “I” would really be there in a way I had never been before.

I talked and shared with Sam every minute expression of coming through the other side, and he told me about the first time he came through. I remembered saying to him how simple it is to just BE. Getting there is not, it is so much work, but I did it. I dreamed and dared, I planned, I made the decisions every step of the way, I faced the demons and won. I cried from my pain, I felt love for myself, and finally I said a prayer that someday I might help others find their way through to that kind of joy.” (Stories of Joy and Pain, by: Lisa Samson).

The Happiest Day Of My Life

 

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The Happiest Day of My Life
Sharing my laughter and my life
By Michael T. Smith

It started innocently.

Many years ago, I worked in an office with large windows that looked out over a busy overpass. I stood by one of those windows one day, when a woman in a passing car looked up and made eye contact with me—naturally, I waved.

A chuckle escaped my lips as she turned and tried to identify me. It was the beginning of a year of window antics. When things were slow, I stood in the window and waved at the passengers who looked up. Their strange looks made me laugh, and the stress of work was washed away.
My co-workers took an interest. They stood back out of view and watched the reactions I received with amusement.

Late afternoon was the best time. Rush-hour traffic filled the overpass with cars and transit buses, and provided a wealth of waving opportunities for my end-of-day routine. It didn’t take long to attract a following—a group of commuters who passed by the window every day and looked up at the strange waving man. There was a man with a construction truck who would turn on his flashing yellow lights and return my wave. There was the carpool crowd and the business lady with her children fresh from day care.
My favorite was the transit bus from the docks that passed my window at 4:40 PM. It carried the same group every day. They were my biggest fans.

Waving grew boring, so I devised ways to enhance my act. I made signs: “Hi!”,”Hello!”, “Be Happy!” I posted them in the window and waved. I stood on the window ledge in various poses; created hats from paper and file-folders, made faces, played peek-a-boo by bouncing up from below the window ledge, stuck out my tongue, tossed paper planes in the air, and once went into the walkway over the street and danced while co-workers pointed to let my fans know I was there.

Christmas approached, and job cuts were announced. Several co-workers would lose their jobs. Everyone was depressed. Stress reached a high point. We needed a miracle to break the tension.

While working a night shift, a red lab jacket attracted my attention. I picked it up and turned it in my hands. In a back corner, where packing material was kept, I used my imagination and cut thin, white sheets of cloth-like foam into strips and taped them around the cuffs and collar, down the front, and around the hem of the lab jacket. A box of foam packing and strips of tape became Santa’s beard. I folded a red file folder into a hat and taped the beard to it. The whole thing slipped over my head in one piece.

The next day I hid from my co-workers and slipped into the costume. I walked bravely to my desk, sat down, held my belly, and mocked Santa’s chuckle. They gathered around me and laughed for the first time in weeks.

A few minutes later, my supervisor walked through the door. He took three steps, and then looked up and saw me. Pausing, he shook his head, turned, and left.

I feared trouble. The phone on the desk rang. It was my boss, and he grumbled, “Mike, come to my office!” I shuffled down the hall. The foam beard swished across my chest with each step.

“Come in!” The muffled voice replied to my knock. I entered and sat down. The foam on my beard creaked. He looked away from me. A bead of sweat rolled down my forehead. The only sound in the room was the hammering of my heart. “Mike…” That was all he managed to say. He lost his composure, leaned back in his chair, and bellowed with laughter as he held his stomach. Tears formed in his eyes, while I sat silent and confused. When he regained control, he said, “Thanks, Mike! With the job cuts, it’s been hard to enjoy the Christmas season. Thanks for the laugh, I needed it.”

That evening, and every evening of that Christmas season, I stood proudly in the window and waved to my fans. The bus crowd waved wildly, and the little children smiled at the strange Santa. My heart filled with joy.

For a few minutes each day, we could forget the job losses.

I didn’t know it then, but a bond was forming between my fans and I. The next spring, I discovered just how close we had become.

My wife and I were expecting our first child. I wanted the world to know. Less than a month before the birth, I posted a sign in the window, “25 DAYS UNTIL ‘B’ DAY.” My fans passed and shrugged their shoulders. The next day the sign read, “24 DAYS UNTIL ‘B’ DAY.” Each day the number dropped, and the passing people grew more confused.

One day a sign appeared in the bus, “What is ‘B’ DAY?” I just waved and smiled.

Ten days before the expected date, the sign in the window read, “10 DAYS UNTIL BA– DAY.” Still the people wondered. The next day it read, “9 DAYS UNTIL BAB- DAY,” then “8 DAYS UNTIL BABY DAY.” My fans finally knew what was happening.

By then, my following had grown to include twenty or thirty different busses and cars. Every night, they watched to see if my wife had given birth. The number decreased and excitement grew. My fans were disappointed when the count reached “zero” without an announcement. The next day the sign read, “BABY DAY 1 DAY LATE”. I pretended to pull out my hair.

Each day the number changed and the interest from passing traffic grew. My wife was fourteen days overdue before she finally went into labor. Our daughter was born the next morning. I left the hospital at 5:30 AM, screamed my joy into the morning air, and drove home to sleep. I got up at noon, bought cigars, and appeared at my window in time for my fans. My co-workers were ready with a banner posted in the window:

“IT’S A GIRL!”

I didn’t stand alone that evening. My co-workers joined me in celebration. We stood and waved our cigars in the air, as every vehicle that passed acknowledged the birth of my daughter. Finally, the bus from the docks made its turn onto the overpass and began to climb the hill. When it drew close, I climbed onto the window ledge and clasped my hands over my head in a victory pose. The bus was directly in front of me when it stopped in heavy traffic, and every person on board stood with their hands in the air.

I was choked with emotion as I watched them celebrate my new daughter.

Then it happened—a sign popped up. It filled the windows and stretched half the length of the bus. “CONGRATULATIONS!” it read.

Tears formed in the corners of my eyes as the bus slowly resumed its journey. I stood in silence as it pulled away from view. More fans passed. They tooted their horns and flashed their lights to congratulate me. I hardly noticed them, as I pondered what had just happened.

My daughter had been born fourteen days late. Those people must have carried that sign for weeks. Each day they must have unrolled it and then rolled it back up. The thought of them going through so much just to celebrate my new baby made me cry.

I made a fool of myself in that window for eight months. I made those people smile after a long day at work. They must have enjoyed it, because on the happiest day of my life they showed their appreciation.

That day, more than twenty years ago, changed me. I just wanted to make my day better. I didn’t realize how it affected others.

Ever since then, I try to put a smile on someone’s face every day. I compliment strangers on their clothing. I start conversations in elevators. I even make jokes in crowded New York City subways. Some may think I am stupid, but I know there is a chance that I’m making someone’s day—someone who may one day hold up a sign that says “Congratulations!”. (The Happiest Day Of My Life, by: Michael T. Smith).

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The Art of Smiling

 (This article is from: Think Simple Now, The Art of Smiling}

By Tina Su, 2006, 'Smiling in Lhasa '
Photo by Tina Su

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
a listening ear, and honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

– Leo F. Buscaglia

Actually, there isn’t any art behind it. Just that you were born to be happy, and you can show this happiness with that beautiful smile of yours. C’mon! Let’s see it. 🙂 Okay, good.

To some extent, we all know how to spot a genuine smile, basically this formula:

Genuine Smile = Crinkly Eyes

bbc-faces.jpg We are all sensitive to this genuine scale, so why then is it that when we cross paths with a stranger or casual acquaintance in the elevator, we give them a fake smile? That ‘polite smile’. You know what I’m talking about (don’t get me wrong, I do this too,unconscious at grocery stores, on streets, while waiting for something.). 

The lesson? Smile with your eyes! Feel it genuinely and it will come out naturally.

Extras: check out this quick interactive quiz from BBC to test out your ability to spot the difference between a real smile and a fake one.

Side Note: I am now smiling as I write this article. I love it! Thank you for reading and allowing me to express myself creatively.

A smile is so simple, yet so powerful. Some noticeable effects of externalizing your internal joy are:

  • People will be attracted to you – I don’t mean sexually (well, maybe that too), but people will feel drawn to your energy. When you smile more, you will carry an aura and poise that will draw people to you. People will look forward to being around you, knowing only that they feel great around you. People on the street, at work, your friends etc. We all like and want to be around happy and cheerful people, right?
  • Optimistic – You’ll feel more positive about yourself and the world.
  • Happiness & Joy – A smile is an expression of happiness and joy in you. Like an upward spiral, a smile will boost the happiness you feel.
  • Healthy – A smile can affect your internal state, which can have physiological impact on your physical and mental health.
  • Approachable – A smile is so welcoming and will make people feel more at ease.
  • Making Other People Happy – A smile has the power to make other people feel good about themselves. It’s heart-warming and has the power to cheer up others instantly.
  • Smiles Are Contagious – Others can quickly and easily catch it and will experience the above ‘side effects’.

Take The Smiling Challenge!

 

  • Smile at Strangers -You know those times when we cross paths with a stranger or accidentally catch someone’s gaze, and we (both) would suddenly look away in awkwardness or pretend we are looking at something else? Well, the challenge is to give them a big smile. A genuine smile, showing teeth and everything.Deepak Chopra talks about giving each person you encounter a small gift. I do this with a smile. Why not? It doesn’t cost us anything. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than feeling awkward and pretending you’re not there.I also love to see people’s reactions when you smile at them, and they aren’t expecting it. Some blush, and others are surprised and smile back, which makes me feel all warm inside.
  • I live in a part of downtown Seattle with lots of street hagglers and homeless people. People often ask me whether I get ‘harassed’ often. The answer is: sometimes. But they really are very nice, just like the rest of us. They too need attention and acknowledgment. So, give them a gift worth more than money.Next time someone asks you for money, don’t try to ignore them. Turn to them, smile warmly and tell them how you feel. If you don’t feel like giving money, just tell them “Sorry, I don’t have change now. Have a beautiful day!”Similarly, if something is trying to sell you something or ‘hitting-on’ you, simply turn to them, smile and say “No thank you.”I’ve found that it takes more energy to ignore and pretend to be very serious, than it is to smile. So smile! Make someone’s day!
  • Smile Fully -You know that half smile we give people when we’re trying to be polite? Like on an elevator, bumping in someone at the front door, or waiting in line. Why not practice giving them a real smile? It’ll be less awkward and you can potentially make someone’s day, or a new friend!
  • Smile at Work -Living under a routine, we can easily be in a zombie-like state when coming into work. We zip into work quickly following the same routines we’ve habituated. Our target is to get to work, and we can sometimes forget about the people around us, in other cubes/offices/departments. So, the challenge is to practice beaming with smile as you come into work. Smile genuinely with people you meet. Be completely pleased to see them. Make it a focus for the day, to bring more happiness into the lives of others. Ask them genuinely and infused with energy, “How are ya?” “How was your weekend?”Watch the smiles surface on their face.
  • A Small Compliment with Your Smile -When meeting or encountering people. Look for things you admire or like about them, however small, let them know. A small genuine compliment can go a long way to lift people’s spirits.

I’ve found it useful to be conscious of things that make me smile. You might want to spend a few minutes making a list of things that brings a smile to your face.

Some Moments That Make Me Smile are:

When Tommy (my eight pound Pomeranian doggie) does one of his tricks: spin in circles, playing dead, or his ‘moonwalk’ dance (that’s right, he moonwalks… *laughs*).

  • When I practice gratitude ‘sessions’
  • When I reach mini goals throughout the day.
  • When I read comments left by readers.
  • When savoring sweet taste of vanilla ice cream
  • When I do my happy dance, and make friends laugh with my ridiculousness.
  • When Adam (my partner) brings me food or chai in the morning as I’m working away on my laptop.
  • When my mother laughs

More Tips To Bring Smiles into Your Life

  • Smiling Journal – For two weeks, record the moments that brought out your wonderful smile. If you are ever feel down, flip through this book to be reminded of things that make you smile. Experience those moments and notice your state shift to a positive one. You cannot be both angry and smiling at the same time. I learned in physiological psychology that if the physical action conflicts with that of your feeling, the feeling inside will shift to match that of your outer sensation. One way to shift your emotion is to change your physiology.
  • Appreciation – Identify things that you are grateful for. Then focus on those things as much as possible.
  • Humor – Make a point to watch a comedy movie. To go a comedy club. Hang out with people who make you laugh.
  • Go On a Self Date – When we feel more connected with ourselves, we feel more joy and tend to naturally smile more.
  • Find Innocence – Observe a small child or a pet at play with total ease and freedom. Watch their innocence, enjoy their presence and yours. Are you smiling? Do you feel happy for them? That’s because you are connecting with the same innocence within yourself.

What makes you smile? Who made you smile today? Share your joy and happiness in a comment! See you there. *smiles*  ( Citation: Think Simple Now, The Art of Smiling).

 

True Freedom

 

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(We Are Happy When We Are Free)

Sermon: True Freedom – John 8

by Steve Andrews on Monday, August 04, 2008

Scriptures: John 8:31-36

Introduction

“Imagine a husband taking his wife out to a nice restaurant for their anniversary. Over candle light he expresses his love for his wife by quoting a list of her physical features as if reading the information from her driver’s license.

  • You are 5′ 4″ tall.
  • You weight is 120 pounds.
  • You were born in January.
  • You have brown hair and brown eyes, and you live on East Maple Street.

Now imagine the same situation with the husband saying,

You walk in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all the is best of dark and night,
Meet in the aspect and your eyes.

While the romantically challenged husband in the first situation communicated information that was accurate, he failed to communicate the depth, the magnitude, and beauty of his love for his wife. Love is more than a list of factual information. Love is a mysterious and beautiful relationship between two people. That is why poetry is often used to express the emotion and beautiful attraction that lovers feel toward each other.

I mention the use of poetry to introduce the idea of what Jesus is speaking about in John 8. Jesus does not use poetry, but He is proclaiming information that is explosive, emotional, and transformational. The concepts of truth, sin, and freedom are more than fill in the blank answers from a Sunday School quiz.

We have a hint that the subjects discussed in John 8:31-36 are massive theological concepts illustrated in the discussion describing the difference between a son and a slave. Jesus is proclaiming freedom not from individual sins or a specific act of disobedience, but He offers freedom from the nature or condition that enslaves all people.

The truth to which Jesus refers is more than the factual correctness that dominates so much of western Christianity. We can quote verses about evangelism, prayer, or compassion, yet we rarely seek to extend compassion prayerfully bringing the gospel to those living in darkness. The freedom that Jesus offers is not a political system; it is a release from the chains that enslave one’s soul.

I. Possibility of freedom

Jesus makes one of the most amazing Inspirational claims in history. Consider for a moment the incredible hope expressed in the promise that Jesus can set people free. Unless you have lived a sheltered life, you have probably experienced an enslaved soul or have known loved ones who struggle to break free from ungodly chains. These ungodly chains my be easy to identify like an immoral addiction, or the chains may be more “acceptable” like fear, greed, poverty, worldliness, doubt, anger, bitterness, legalism, racism, insecurity, despair, and depression. Whatever category you classify your slavery, the result is the same – a failure to experience the abundant life promised by following Christ. To those living in bondage, Jesus offers freedom!

A. The freedom offered by Jesus is spiritual

His freedom is not a political revolution. True freedom is not about changing your outward circumstances. This is a significant concept because it reveals that Jesus can free you wherever you are. Paul was on the road to Damascus persecuting Christians. The prodigal was in a pig pen. Peter was in a boat fishing. One woman was drawing water from a well. Another woman found freedom when caught in adultery. A thief was on a cross of execution when Jesus set his soul free!

Spiritual freedom is not dependent upon physical circumstances that may have led or contributed to your bondage. Jesus can set you free in your marriage without causing a divorce. Jesus can set you free when you are overdrawn in your checkbook without making a deposit. Jesus can set you free from past or current failures without loading a U-haul truck. Don’t misunderstand this concept to mean something it doesn’t. We may need to make, and Christ may lead us to make, some physical or circumstantial changes. But, one of the main truths of divine freedom is Jesus is more concerned about setting your soul free than defeating the Roman Empire or some other external force in your life.

B. Jesus’ freedom is also purposeful

Jesus describes the freedom He offers resulting from abiding in His truth. Freedom is not a lack of restraint that allows one to fulfill any selfish desire, but genuine freedom takes place in the arena or stadium of divine truth. As we abide in Christ we are released from the chains of the world and released to be all that God created us to be. Like a fish has been created to swim in water, we are created to live in the truth of Christ’s love.

Consider playing an instrument like the piano. Who is free the toddler who has never taken a lesson but freely bangs on the piano keys, or the person who has taken lessons, reads music, and creates beautiful even worshipful sounds with the same piano? Obviously, the skilled musician is free to play the instrument as it was designed. We were created to walk in fellowship with almighty God, but sin hinders that relationship by enslaving us in a separated life from God. Christ is the only one who can set us free to enjoy the life as a child of God instead of living as a slave of the world.

II. Perils of freedom

Even though Jesus clearly declared that freedom was possible, the sad reality is that very few experience it. The following is not an exhaustive list, but several perils or roadblocks hindering freedom are identified in the text.

A. The first peril is Ignorance

Jesus is declaring new truth to some who did not know that freedom was available. The Bible describes those who lacked knowledge of Christ’s ministry as “living in darkness,” and Jesus came to bring light to those who lived in darkness.

B. A second peril is arrogance

The Pharisees’ statement that they had never lived as slaves is not just inaccurate; it is arrogant. Israel had experienced slavery under the Assyrian Empire, Babylonian Empire, Persian Empire, and now the Roman Empire. But their greatest slavery was to their own sin. They were unwilling to admit that they had failed to meet God’s holy standard. They lived by a legalistic code and arrogantly rejected the offer of God’s amazing grace.

C. Reluctance

Reluctance is the third peril that prevented some from responding to Christ’s offer of freedom. The context reveals that some had placed their faith in Christ (v. 30), while others believed what Jesus was preaching but had not taken the next step placing their faith in Him. This group was not ignorant. They were not arrogant because they recognized a need for Christ, but they were unwilling to surrender to the lordship of Christ.

D. Complacency

Contained in the text is the exhortation to be free indeed or complete freedom. This exhortation seems to stand in contrast to those who would accept marginal freedom. A little bit of freedom was acceptable instead of trusting Christ for abundant freedom. Attending synagogue, offering some sacrifices, and celebrating the traditional “holy day” festivals was okay for most people. Jesus offers true freedom from the top shelf instead of settling for the cheap prizes at the bottom shelf.

A friend shared the story of taking his four-year-old daughter to Chuck-E-Cheese. On previous visits she won a few tickets and was limited to choosing prizes from the bottom shelf at the redemption center. But on their last visit to Chuck-E-Cheese, the daughter hit the jackpot on one of the games winning a large number of tickets. As they were going to the redemption center to claim her prizes she said, “Daddy I don’t have to choose from the bottom shelf this time. Today, I have enough for the good prizes on the top shelf.”

I am convinced most individuals who call themselves “Christians” live complacent lives choosing blessings from the bottom shelf when abundant freedom is available. Are you living “fee indeed?”

III. Process of freedom

Jesus identifies a process for experiencing true freedom with the words, “If..then.” The process should not be confused with a legalistic formula. He does not say, “If you have a daily quiet time with thirty minutes of prayer, tithe faithfully, and only miss Sunday School twice a year, then you can be free.” While Jesus does not prescribe a formula, His words do reveal a way in which things operate in His kingdom. For example, you are free to watch the sun rise each morning, but you must do two things to see it. You must get up early in the morning, and you must face east. If you sleep until ten o’clock and look west, you will miss the sunrise even though you are free to watch it. Why? Because there is a way things work.

The little word “if” is a big concept in the kingdom of God. The word represents an invitation. True freedom will not attack you; rather you must respond to God’s invitation to accept His complete freedom. As we have already discussed, most do not accept God’s offer.

Jesus also reveals the expectation to abide.

Two concepts emerge from the text related to abiding in truth. First, abiding refers to perseverance. True freedom is not found through a casual glance at the claims of Christ, but one must be willing to “dwell” in the Word of God (v.31). This is not a 30 day trial of faith. Jesus is not talking about a 12 week Bible study. Jesus offers freedom to those who abide in His Word. Abide comes from the root word abode meaning home or dwelling place. The word picture communicated is one of moving to a new home. It represents a significant and ongoing change in one’s life.

The second concept of abiding is place or location. Jesus declares that true freedom is found in, “MY word.” Freedom is not found in self-help programs, legalistic religion, the teaching of Buddha, or Muhammad. Freedom is not found in the pop psychology of Dr. Phil, Oprah, or through selfish indulgence of unrestrained sin. True and complete freedom is found in Christ.

Conclusion

Most of us have experienced the crunch of high gasoline prices. When my teenage daughter asks to ride with her parents because she doesn’t want to use the gas in her car, you know that gas is expensive. Imagine if congress allowed drilling for oil in my backyard to help reduce the cost of gas. What do you think the impact would be upon prices? None! Why? Because they aren’t in major oil reserves in my backyard! The soil deposits in this geographic region do not contain the chemicals necessary for producing large quantities of fuel like those of Texas, Alaska, or Saudi Arabia. Not matter how hard I work and no matter how sincere I believe, digging for oil in my backyard will not produce the desired result. To get oil, you must dig where there is a deposit of oil.

Jesus declared there is a deposit of truth in His words that can set you free indeed!” Sermon by Stephen Andrews, Pastor Alabaster Baptist Church.

Six Variables That Predict Happiness

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“Do you think and feel positively about your life?

I know many people who would say they are happy and highly satisfied with their life. I also know many people who are dissatisfied and discontent with their life situation.

What is the difference between those who have positive well-being and those who are suffering?

There are many personal and social factors that play a role in our level of happiness, though they may not be what you would expect. For instance, it’s not money or intelligence that makes the difference in these individuals’ lives.

Fortunately psychological research has explored this concept and provided us with valuable insight into how we can be happier and more satisfied.

Various reviews of literature reveal that there are 6 primary variables that relate to subjective well-being.

 

Positive self-esteem

Feeling positively about ourselves is a major factor in whether we are satisfied with our life or not. A high self-esteem aids us in navigating relationships, confidently seeking growth and achievement, as well as experiencing positive emotions and dealing with adversity.

Sense of perceived control

Think of a time you felt out of control. What was this like? I imagine things felt chaotic and overwhelming. This is why a sense of control is a crucial predictor of subjective well-being. Believing we are in control of our life circumstances and having a sense of security is empowering. It prompts our  motivation to achieve our goals and gives us the courage to build hope and faith in our future.

Extroversion

In a study of college students who were asked to report their mood over the course of a week, those students who were extroverted rated themselves at a “2″ out of “3,” where “3″ was happy and zero was neutral. On the other hand, introverts rated themselves at a “1.” Extraverts overall rated themselves as happier.

This may be due to extraverts’ propensity to experience more positive emotions or that extraverts, being more sociable, are likely to make more positive and supportive relationships.

Optimism

People who are more optimistic about the future tend to report being happier and more satisfied. They believe that good things will happen and that adversity can be turned around. They may feel a sense of security and confidence about achieving their goals and dealing with life effectively.

It is important to mention that unrealistic optimism that cause problems when we overlook risk and disregard clear signs of trouble, however, ahealthy dose of optimism can really have a positive impact on how we engage in life and the success we experience.

Positive social relationships

This is another clear predictor of subjective well-being. There are two main components to positive social relationships: social support and emotional intimacy. Social support offers us the ability to cope more effectively, manage problems, and ultimately feel better about ourselves.

Emotional intimacy is when we’re connected with others through a deep and meaningful relationship.

Both of these factors combine to offer us joyful and productive relationship.

A sense of meaning and purpose to life

Having life-satisfaction comes from uncovering our life purpose and living out our personal mission and vision. When we are living from a purpose, we can develop a greater sense of meaning for what happens in our life, and a positively correlated topic with this is religiosity. Having a spiritual or religious relationship seems to aid in the cultivation of purpose and meaning.

Most of these variables are interrelated and build on one another, and they can be learned and developed if we are willing to put in the time to grow in these areas. Determine where you feel you could use more balance and development and set some goals to bring more of this into your life.”

Reference:

Compton W. C. (2005). An Introduction to Positive Psychology. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Photo credit: eric albee