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Joy

Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject this year.  A lot.  Here are some things I’ve discovered:

Joy is a choice. A choice that a person must deliberately and constantly make if joy is to be had.

Joy is a habit.  So are cynicism and negativity.  It’s easy to fall into our old thought habits.  Which ones do you fall into? Joyful thoughts or negative ones?

Joy really has very little to do with what is going on around me.  I can be in a pit, but how bad the situation feels is directly correlated to how much joy I allow into that pit with me.

Joy is the most attractive quality a person can possess.

It’s never too late to choose joy.  Try it.  Try it right now.

Do this: pay attention to your thoughts for as long as you can.  Look at them as they flit across your brain.  Are they joyful, negative, neither?  If you come across a negative thought, pay attention to it and try to reframe it as a positive thought.  For example: If a car cuts me off in traffic and I notice I’m thinking negative thoughts about that driver, try to change that anger or bitterness to something positive, such as, “I wonder if that driver realizes s/he cut me off?  I hope s/he arrives safely.” Or, “That person doesn’t seem to be having a very good day.  I hope his/her day turns around.”  Give others the same benefit of the doubt you would wish for yourself.  Send those positive vibes or prayers out.  You may be amazed at the transformation you feel when you start doing this.  I was. I continue to be amazed.

En-joy!

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Self-Differentiation (Staying Above the Fray)

Have you ever been in the situation where you were roped into a conflict without realizing it?  This used to happen to me all the time.  My son would be running late for school, unable to find his sneakers, for example, and meltdown. (He’s an adolescent.) The next thing I knew, I was arguing with him about putting his things where they belong and why he didn’t set them out the night before, etc.  The argument escalates and you both part angry.

You know the script.  You’ve probably done this routine many times.  What had started out as a perfectly serene day for you is now full of conflict and irritation.  Do you wonder why this happened?  If you think it’s just because the other person is irresponsible, disorganized, (fill in your own adjective here), etc. think again.  The problem is that you were drawn into the situation, seemingly against your will.  Why and how did that happen?

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United We Stand

Wow.  What a week it’s been.  Could anyone have predicted this election cycle, including the plot twists and turns that happened weekly during the past two years?  Like many Americans, I can say that I have never experienced the divisiveness and hatred that I’ve witnessed during these past two years.  Like most Americans, I can also say, “I’m glad that’s over.”  But is it, really?  Something ugly was stirred up in our collective reality.  Can we ignore it?  Can we afford to?  I can tell you from painful experience that ignoring a festering wound by covering it with a Band-Aid just makes things worse.

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Waiting

waiting-computerWhat are you willing to wait for?  What are you not willing to wait for?  Think about that.  Really think about it.  When you try to answer it, it’s not that easy.

The answers will be different for each of us.  I am NOT willing to wait for mediocre service; a movie to improve after 15 minutes; more than 25 minutes to see my doctor if I’m not in pain; more than 5 minutes on hold.

I AM willing to wait more than 2 minutes for my coffee if there’s a line; 5 minutes for the department store clerk to check me out when there’s a sale; 25 minutes to see my doctor when I’m in pain (though I’m not going to be happy about it).

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The Thinker

The Thinker2One of the goals I’ve set for myself is to become a better writer.  How does one do that? Why by writing, of course.  In our society, it has never been easier to write.  Most of us don’t even need pen and paper to do it.  Many of us have a computer at our disposal with a word processing program already loaded.  What could be easier?  It’s not the act of writing, though, that is the difficult part, I find.  No, the hard part is the thinking.

I can’t remember who pointed it out to me, but if you call to mind the famous statue by Rodin The Thinker, you’ll see what I mean.  Look at his pose.  He’s a bit twisted and doesn’t look terribly comfortable.  I think that may have been intentional by Rodin.  Thinking is hard.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

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To Floss or Not to Floss

FLOSSHave you seen the article about flossing that’s gone viral on the internet over the past several weeks?  This one is about the lack of clinical evidence that flossing prevents tooth decay.  When my cousin sent me the article, I thought it was a hoax, but it appeared to be from NYTimes Magazine, no lightweight in the publishing world.  As I read it, I grew alarmed, not by the content of the article but by the implications.  By glancing at the headlines one could come away with the idea that flossing doesn’t work.  What the article actually says is that there aren’t clinical trials to prove that it works.

Why is it that we, as humans, will skip over 54,000 information bytes that give one opinion, but will focus on the ONE byte that opines differently, especially if it concerns something we’re not crazy about doing anyway?  It’s one of the endearing qualities that makes us special, I guess.

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Revolution

RevolutionRecently I had the great good fortune to hear a sermon by the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Rev. Michael Curry.  We were in St. Augustine Episcopal Church in Gary, Indiana.  Bishop Curry is a humble man who exudes joy and love.  If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, do it!

Bishop Curry’s sermon was on one of his favorite themes: the Jesus Movement.  He shared with us that Jesus didn’t come to start a church or a religion.  He came to start a revolution.  He said that the revolution is based on two commandments: Love God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.  He said that if we did those two things, God could change the world.

I’ve been thinking about that since I heard him speak.  I think that no matter what religion a person is, or even if a person ascribes to no faith tradition at all, this is a message for all humanity.

What would that look like?  What would it look like if each of us committed to loving the person we were with in each moment?  Now, I didn’t say “like” the person we are with or “agree” with the person we are with.  I said “love.”  To love someone is to wish him well; to want good things for her; to recognize God reflected in his eyes.

[To like someone, I would argue, means to want to spend time with that person.  There are plenty of people I love with whom I don’t necessarily want to spend time, nor with whom I agree, but I do wish them well and want good things for them.]

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Taking Responsibility

Taking Responsibility

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking responsibility for ourselves.  How often do we do that?  How often do we blame others or God for things that happen to us?  This was prompted by a question from my young son who asked why God sometimes allows bad things to happen to people.  We talked for a while about free will and the consequences of our choices.  “But what about people who didn’t do anything to cause what happened to them,” he asked.

It’s a good question.

I answered him as best I could, but it’s been on my mind ever since.

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You’ve Gotta Guy

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I’m really lucky.  In my family, we have doctors, a dentist, a waitress, a nurse, a personal trainer, a lawyer, an IT guru, teachers.  These are my go-to people when I have a medical or dental question or if I have a question about chemistry or why my printer isn’t printing.  Is this something serious I should have checked out or is this something normal?  I’ve “gotta guy.”  So lucky!

What I don’t have in my family is an investment advisor, an auto mechanic, a politician, an athletic coach, a builder, an accountant, an airline or travel specialist, a landscaper, or a clergy person.  Other people do, and they are lucky too.  We all have someone in our lives who is the person we go to when we really need the best advice about some issue that’s come up.  Someone we trust to help us out and steer us in the right direction.  Someone we go to before we hit the Yellow Pages or do a Google search.

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Making a Difference

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Sometimes when I’m brushing my teeth before bed I think, “Wow, it feels like I just did this.”  It’s true.  As we age, the days feel like they are rolling by faster.  Sometimes I wonder what happened to the day.  Do you ever feel like that?

Then I wonder what I did during the day.  Was I just a slave to my schedule?  Did I do anything that really mattered?  Did I make a difference?  Or was I just taking up space today?

(Now, I realize that I matter to my family and friends, of course, but I’m talking about something bigger.)

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